A culinary pioneer, Susanna Foo helped bring gourmet Chinese food to America. Now she is once again making her mark on the city of Philadelphia with her son, Gabriel Foo.
Susanna has been acknowledged as one of the best Chinese chefs in the country by USA Today and hailed as an innovator by Gourmet, Food & Wine, Esquire and The New York Times. With two cookbooks and two James Beard Awards, Foo is highly decorated in the food world and knows that altering the ordinary is the key to success.
Susanna Foo’s influences are derived from her upbringing in Taiwan, and her training at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. “Modern Chinese” is the fusion of classical Chinese and fresh Western ingredients with Foo’s signature French style of cooking.
Growing up, Gabe Foo was surrounded by the fragrant aromas emanating from the kitchen of his family’s restaurant, Hu-Nan in Center City Philadelphia and then later his mother’s eponymous restaurant, Susanna Foo Chinese Cuisine. After school Gabe kept busy by helping out around the restaurant folding napkins, and as he grew older pitching in as a busboy or manning the host stand.
Like many young adults, Gabe went against the grain and pursued a career outside of the family business as a physician. After medical school, he completed his residency at Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston, MA. Gabe joined a private practice in St. Petersburg, FL and later became a hospitalist at Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria, CA.
Lying dormant for years, the hospitality bug emerged in 2003 when Gabe came back home and was entranced by his mother’s new restaurant, Sulian, at the Borgata in Atlantic City. Sleek and modern, Sulian was a glimpse into the future of what a Chinese restaurant could be.
In 2006, the hospitality bug had taken full hold and he returned home to join the family business as Manager of both Susanna Foo Chinese Cuisine in Philadelphia and Susanna Foo Gourmet Kitchen in Radnor, PA. Needing to scale back and take a break, Susanna Foo closed the original Philadelphia location and eventually the Radnor outpost.
By 2015, Gabe was convinced the Foo family needed to return to Center City and introduce a new generation of restaurant-goers to the flavors and techniques of his mother’s James Beard Award-winning cuisine. In 2016, with an eye to the future and a nod to traditional Northern Chinese cuisine, Susanna and Gabe Foo opened SUGA.