Cover Art Print
The Foodie Edition
The Tour and all the Trimmings
The Foodie Edition and all the Trimmings
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I get my book delivered to?
How do supporter names work?
Chinatown Stories shares the history of London's most iconic cultural precinct alongside the experiences of the people and recipes that have shaped it. Telling the untold stories of London's Chinatown that help us understand the places, people and food that have shaped the capital's iconic cultural precinct, Chinatown Stories offers history, social commentary and recipes all with the aim of sharing the heritage that we can see and that which we cannot see in this special neighbourhood.
The nine streets in south Soho that make up London's Chinatown have a rich heritage that pre-date its Chinese influences. From origins as monastic lands that were sold off after Henry VIII's reformation, the area became a thriving multicultural neighbourhood that developed a reputation for foreign foods in the 1800s. It was a focal point for intellectual circles in Georgian London with coffee houses and salons a plenty. And it has played host to wild times while Ronnie Scott opened his first jazz club and music venues sprang up with acts including the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and Led Zeppelin. It's a neighbourhood that consistently thrived, dived and then adapted to survive.
If you walk through the neighbourhood, you will see allusions to its history through finely preserved architecture and heritage plaques. What visitors do not see is anything that explains what led to the area being designated Chinatown and what it means to the people who live, work and spend time there. Chinatown Stories will share the area's pre-Chinatown past, recent history and the untold experiences of members of the community through interviews.
What role has Chinatown played in their migration stories?
What does the area represent to them?
And what emotions does Chinatown evoke?
How do they feel about the rapid pace of change in this busy part of London?
Food has held a significant role in the neighbourhood’s history. Chinatown Stories will capture heritage dishes and recipes that reflect the stories of the area – creating a trove of tales and recipes that help us understand more about this special place.
Chinatown Stories combines history, personal stories and recipes to give the full flavour of what Chinatown means in London this decade.
All proceeds from Chinatown Stories will be donated to fund community projects that support the neighbourhood.
About the Book
- 288 pages
- Demy format, 216 x 138mm
- 50 images
Quick select rewards
Freya Aitken-Turff has been living and breathing Chinatowns since 2015, when she became CEO of China Exchange, a charity in London’s Gerrard Street, where she leads a team to encourage people to visit Chinatown for more than just food and to explore how China influences their lives. She became a Churchill Fellow in 2017 with research focused on how Chinatowns around the world are responding to change. Watching London’s Chinatown change rapidly inspired the work and fuelled a passion for uncovering and sharing Chinatown’s intangible cultural heritage. Freya is a Mandarin speaker and Sinophile who loves nothing more than to learn about China (preferably over dinner).
Xiao Ma was brought up in Gansu Northwest Mainland China, an important stop on the Silk Road, the ancient network of trade routes connecting the East and West. As a former London-based journalist, Xiao had been writing about UK arts and culture for a Chinese audience before joining China Exchange where she enjoys sharing insights on Chinese culture, both old and new, in the heart of Chinatown.
It was in 2012 that Xiao first visited London’s Chinatown and found herself strolling through a fusion of familiar and unfamiliar cultural landmarks. What shapes the cultural identity of Chinatown? How is Chineseness perceived and taught by different generations of Chinese immigrants in the UK? Chinatown; whose Chinatown? What does it mean to be an immigrant in modern day Britain? Xiao has been fascinated by these questions and is often inspired by her British born Chinese husband and his ‘Third Culture Kid’ friends.
- 1st September 2020 Bring Chinatown Home
We feel a very strong sense of duty to record and share the untold human stories of Chinatown. This is only getting stronger.
During lockdown, a PR campaign, #BringingChinatownHome, was launched by Chinatown London (a website and social media accounts funded and run by the area’s majority landlord) with a strong focus on the rich food cultures in Chinatown.
The next campaign from the London…26th August 2020 Did London Eat Out and Help Out enough to turn the tables for Chinatown?
In April, we asked whether Chinatown would survive COVID-19. The prospects looked bleak. Almost five months on and there are some tiny signs that both people and their spending power have returned.
If you visit Chinatown on a sunny day, you will enjoy a stroll along lively narrow streets lined with al fresco diners sitting beneath a sea of red lanterns – sounds lovely, right? And it is. It feels…14th April 2020 Will Chinatown survive COVID-19?
We both started working from home the day the UK Government made its first announcements about social distancing. The memory of leaving a deserted Chinatown has been haunting us for weeks.
For most of the family-run small businesses and independent restaurants operating in this costly London district, the margins are already tight. We don’t know how many of the current businesses will be able to…9th October 2019 We're almost 20% funded!
Fortune has shone on Chinatown Stories this month - we’ve welcomed new supporters to the special group of people making this project happen. Thank you to all of you.
We’ve also uncovered two new stories to explore - last week we interviewed a woman whose parents opened some of the first Chinese businesses in Soho including the shop and restaurant where she worked in the 1960s. She came armed with…4th September 2019 The ten percent club
Wow! Thank you for believing in our book and getting us to 10%. It marks our first formal milestone in making our project possible.
Chinatown is never far from our minds. This year we’ve been busy working on an exhibition, The Making of Chinatown, which was open at China Exchange in London during the summer. The exhibition provided some fantastic content for the book - it has also meant that we…
These people are helping to fund Chinatown Stories.