RICHMOND, Calif. -- In the kitchen of her Richmond, California home, cookbook author Kristina Cho is prepping to bake a delicious treat.
"This is everything that's needed for the quintessential milkbread."
As she combines the ingredients and adds it to the stand mixer, she reflects on her love for cooking.
"What I love most about cooking is eating and watching someone else eat the food. I love watching someone that has never had a dish I've made before, take a bite, and you see that split-second in their eyes where they're like, 'that's really good.' That's my favorite moment."
Kristina Cho is the author of "Mooncakes and Milk Bread," an award-winning Chinese baking cookbook. Her love for cooking began with watching her family in the kitchen.
"I feel like I was born into it. My grandparents owned Chinese restaurants when I was growing up so I was always surrounded by really good cooks. I probably started off as a really enthusiastic eater. It wasn't until I was 13 years old that I started to bake on my own. Baking gave me a lot of solitude and independence in the kitchen."
Kristina pursued a career in architecture, but always kept her love for baking. She used it as a hobby to help her de-stress from her career.
This led to her starting her own food blog, called "Eat Cho Food."
"I got it because I always loved to read food blogs."
After a while, her blog started to gain popularity and her audience grew.
"More people seemed to be interested in the food I was sharing. I treat Instagram and the blog as a medium to reach the people who are interested in what I write. But it still blows me away that there's people out there."
When Kristina started to feel unsatisfied with her job in architecture, she focused more on her blog.
"I remember the day that I decided to quit my job. At the same time my current literary agent emailed me and said 'I think you have a really good voice, and you should write a cookbook.' I just took it as a sign from the universe saying 'hey, you should give this a try.'"
Kristina saw a need for a cookbook that covered more than just Chinese baking on the surface. She wanted to be sure to add context and culture to the recipes.
"When I got my book deal I took that as a really big responsibility. To be able to share the stories and the history of Chinese baking."
Her cookbook, "Mooncakes and Milk Bread," has since been named to a number of "best of" cookbook lists and has even won two prestigious James Beard awards.
One of Kristina's signature goods is "The Almighty Pineapple Bun."
"My first instinct when I wrote the head note for pineapple buns is talking about how they're my dad's favorite. And how my dad would save up money to go to bakeries in Hong Kong to spend on a pineapple bun because it was a treat."
Kristina believes that her background as a second-generation Chinese-American has shaped her many ways.
"I think from writing this book it helped me acknowledge that I have all these different facets to myself."
Both of her parents are from Hong Kong, and Kristina herself grew up in Ohio.
"I'm very much a Midwestern kid. And now I've been living in the Bay Area for almost nine years, so I have all these different facets of my life that I try to express through my food."
Visit Kristina's blog and learn more about her, her recipes, and her book here.