San Antonio Express-News

You don’t have to be a chef to appreciate how the aroma of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven or spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove can take us back in time at a moment’s whiff.

For chefs, however, the aromas from their mothers’ kitchens often provided the spark that lit the fire of their culinary careers. On this Mother’s Day, they share their memories of their moms and the food that nurtured and sustained them.

“When mom comes home, everything immediately is better — there is more laughter, warmth and comfort.”

For Kristina Zhao, owner of Sichuan House, making dumplings was a project that brought the family together.

“It’s a little like how people here get together to make tamales,” she said.

Now, dumplings celebrate the times when her mother, Dr. Xiaoying Chang, comes home from New York, where she practices medicine. Chang moved the same year the rest of the family opened their restaurant.

“When mom comes home, everything immediately is better — there is more laughter, warmth and comfort. The house is clean, fruit is cut and ready to eat,” she said. “The dishes we share are significant because they represent the togetherness that mom commands, of our childhood when we were able to sit around the table and make these, talk, laugh, and eat. They are meticulously crafted, made with care and beautiful — just like Mom.”

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