Bruce Cost

Bruce Cost

bruce-cost-largeHaving devoted himself to the field for over thirty-five years, Bruce Cost is one of the nation’s leading authorities on Asian cuisine.

Mr. Cost taught courses on Chinese and Southeast Asian cooking in San Francisco for six years and has lectured on Asian food and its history at the Smithsonian, the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, and UC Berkeley Extension. He has conducted cooking demonstrations all over the country, including at De Gustibus Cooking School (Macy’s, New York), the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, and the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in the Napa Valley.

Mr. Cost has served on panels across the US and Canada, notably at the International Conference on the Diets of Asia (San Francisco, November–December 1995) sponsored by the Harvard School of Public Health, the Cornell-China-Oxford Project on Nutrition, Health and Environment based at Cornell University, and the Oldways Preservation Trust. He has been a panelist twice at the Asia Society in New York to discuss Asian influences on American restaurants. In 1997, he was a guest of the city of Hong Kong to represent the US in picking top chefs at the annual Hong Kong Food Festival along with judges from eleven other countries.

For many years, Mr. Cost wrote features for the San Francisco Chronicle and a weekly column in the Washington Post. His articles have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, various other publications through the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, and popular food magazines such as Gourmet. He has written three books: Asian Ingredients (HarperCollins 2001, first published as Bruce Cost’s Asian Ingredients by Morrow in 1988), Ginger East to West (Addison-Wesley 1989) and Big Bowl Noodles and Rice (William Morrow 2000). He was also part of the team that updated The Joy of Cooking in 1997. With professor of East Asian Languages, University of Chicago, Donald Harper, Mr. Cost has now completed most of How to Steam a Bear, a translation of the world’s oldest collection of recipes from a fifth-century Chinese manuscript.

Called “one of the greatest cooks I have ever known” by Alice Waters in her introduction to Asian Ingredients, Mr. Cost opened Monsoon in San Francisco in 1989. It was recognized as one of six four-star restaurants in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Chronicle and became nationally known, winning Mr. Cost two consecutive nominations for the Best Chef in California James Beard Award.

In 1993, Mr. Cost transformed Berkeley, California’s historic Fourth Street Grill into Ginger Island, a highly regarded casual Asian restaurant. In 1994, he launched Ginger Club, Inc., which operated Ginger Club in Palo Alto, California, until the end of 1997.

Until recently, Mr. Cost split his time between New York City and Chicago, where in 1995 he partnered with Rich Melman’s Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises to create the Big Bowl restaurants, casual dining establishments featuring Chinese and Thai food. The restaurants were acquired by Brinker International (Chili’s Grill & Bar, etc.) in 2001 before being bought back by Mr. Cost and his partners in 2004. There are currently seven Big Bowls in the Midwest and one in Reston, Virginia. Mr. Cost and his partners also created Wow Bao, a popular restaurant offering several flavors of stuffed steamed buns the Chinese call bao. There are currently three locations in Chicago.

Having just begun to sell his products in supermarkets, Mr. Cost is a partner in, Big Bowl Express; a venture with Lunds and Byerly’s to sell fresh Asian food in their twenty-one Minnesota stores. TMI Trading Corp. in Brooklyn manufactures Mr. Cost’s products to his specifications and is his partner in producing and bottling Bruce Cost Ginger Ale.

Mr. Cost has three children from two marriages: Eliza, who is an executive producer of TV’s The Insider in Los Angeles and whose husband, Eric, won a gold medal for the US at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney; Jennifer, who is the chair of the English department at San Diego Mesa College; and Ben, who is studying Mandarin at Jiao Tong University in Shanghai and writing for the blog

An intrepid traveler, Mr. Cost is well into his second million miles with United Airlines. He has spent time with his son in most of the world’s rainforests from Borneo to the Amazon, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Australia. He has a great passion for the world’s food markets, where he does research and enjoys tracking down and sampling new foods and ingredients.

Mr. Cost lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan from 1966 to 1974. He has recently remarried and moved back Manhattan with his wife, Kavi, where they live on the Lower East Side.

Bruce Cost Ginger Ale is Unique among ginger ales on the market, it is made with only fresh ginger (no extracts, no oils!) and pure cane sugar. Unfiltered and rich with ginger particles, it has the “mouth feel” of a light beer or wine. His newest flavor, Ginger-Pomegranate-Hibiscus, uses our Pomegranate Concentrate to compliment the spice of ginger and floral hibiscus notes.