Whole Story

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Michael Chu of Cooking for Engineers

Each of our six of our finalists for the Food Blogger Budget Recipe Challenge will be featured in a blog post here. Read about them and check out their featured recipe. By posting a comment on their recipe page, you help determine the winner in our Challenge AND you'll be entered in a drawing to win a $500 gift card! Michael Chu is a computer engineer who learned to cook as a hobby. He began sharing what he learned through countless trial-and-error experiments on Cooking For Engineers in 2004.  His blog is a food and cooking site for the inquisitive.  It features detailed recipes with step-by-step photographs presented alongside in-depth articles on topics such as how brining works, making butter at home, equipment tests and more. Don’t lie: what did you have for dinner last night?
Flanken-style short ribs in Korean Asian pear marinade grilled on an outdoor grill (Kalbi), light salad of fresh lettuces, seaweed salad (purchased at the local Korean market), steamed white rice.
Remember: Don't comment here if you want to support Michael in our contest. You have to comment on his recipe page. We turned comments off to help you remember! Can you give us 3 to 5 of your favorite money-saving tips when it comes to cooking and eating?
  • I’ve found that time really is money. If I’m busy and don’t have time to cook, then I’ll eat out and that’s not cheap when you have a picky palate. Finding something you like to eat that you can make quickly can be a great way to prevent unplanned dining out.
  • It may seem cheap, but when you do go out to eat, don’t be afraid to ask for the bread and butter to go with your leftovers – they’re going to throw it out anyway and there’s usually quite a bit of bread left.
  • Cook what’s on sale. It might seem like a silly tip – everyone knows that if you buy the sale items you’ll save money, but most people don’t. They stick to what they know and buy those items all the time. Markets often have sales to showcase new merchandise or produce, sometimes it’s stuff you don’t even know what to do with. Save some money and buy it and figure out how to prepare it – it’s a cost savings and a culinary adventure all rolled into one!
What inspired you to start your blog?
I wanted to document my recipes to share with my friends and family. I had built websites before, but never tried using a blog content management system before. Blogger was just relaunched by Google and they were supplying free disk space for photos (as long as you used their upload tool), so decided to try it out. I started posting lots of pictures with my initial recipes, and, now, step-by-step pictures have become one of the defining aspects of my website. About a year later, I moved my content from Blogger to form a website that made it easier to discover older articles that are just as important as the newer ones.
What is your “go-to” weekday meal recipe - the one you pull out in a pinch for yourself that you never get tired of?
A rib-eye steak grilled rare to medium-rare served with a side salad and grilled rosemary and thyme red potatoes. I can’t get tired this (and my wife can’t get enough of the potatoes).
If you could host a potluck dinner with any three people, who would you invite and what dish would each person bring along?
Wolfgang Puck (because he’s really made a huge impact on California cuisine, an extremely skilled practitioner, and seems like a fun guy), Marco Pierre White (the man is crazy but he has legendary taste buds so whatever he brings must be incredible or, at least, have a great story), and Harold McGee (because he got me into thinking about food on a more scientific level and it would be wonderful to pick his brain and learn from his experience). They can bring whatever they want – isn’t that why we do potlucks? If you knew what people were bringing, where’s the luck?
How do you spend your time when you’re not cooking, eating or blogging?
I’m the lead architect at a social network called Fanpop (http://www.fanpop.com) and spend most of my non-food time working on the Fanpop (we’re only four guys in a living room that’s built a 20+ million page view site in 2.5 years). I think my readership over at Cooking For Engineers would prefer it if I didn’t spend most of my time working and had more time to devote to cooking.
Comments on Michael's recipe from his Budget Recipe Challenge page:
BlondeVino wrote: WOW was this delicious. I made it for my boyfriend, and I may just be married after cooking such a delicious, inexpensive, and enticing meal! Thanks! katswan wrote: I LOVE chicken marsala and the hubby loves brussel sprouts and my kid loves pasta...what could be better? Happy Family! Thanks for the lovely recipe!
Remember: Don't comment here if you want to support Michael in our contest. You have to comment on his recipe page. We turned comments off to help you remember!