Bio 9

Ava Chin, a Queens native, is the author of the award-winning Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love, and the Perfect Meal (Simon & Schuster, 2014) and the former Urban Forager columnist for the New York Times (2009-2013). She has written for the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, Saveur, Marie Claire, the Village Voice, and SPIN. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, and an M.A. from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. A New York Institute for Humanities fellow at New York University, she is an associate professor of creative nonfiction and journalism at CUNY. The Huffington Post named her one of “9 Contemporary Authors You Should Be Reading.”

1st Prize Winner of the 2015 MFK Fisher Book Awards, Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love, and the Perfect Meal was one of Library Journal’s “Best Books of 2014” and a Goodreads Choice Awards 2014 semifinalist. NPR’s The Splendid Table chose it for their Staff Book Picks of 2014, and Kirkus Reviews described it as “A delectable feast of the heart.”

Eating Wildly reveals how foraging and the DIY-food movement helped Chin to heal up from the wound of an absent father and taught her important lessons in self-reliance. After a romantic break-up and the loss of a beloved family member, she immerses herself in places like Prospect and Central Parks, discovering the city’s best mushrooms, mulberries, and even a swarm of wild honeybees slated for extermination on Staten Island, meeting fellow foragers and mycologists along the way. As the seasons turn, she starts to see the world as a place of abundance and beauty, where everything is interconnected and interdependent—and timing is key.

Ava Chin has appeared on WNYC’s “All Things Considered” discussing lamb’s quarters, ginkgoes and wineberries, and has been featured in ELLE, Martha Stewart, and the Village Voice.

She is the editor of Split: Stories From a Generation Raised on Divorce (McGraw-Hill, 2002) a collection of nonfiction essays about growing up in a divorced family, which Booklist called a “brave and insightful collection.” Her essay “The Missing” reveals the challenges of being raised by a single mother, and how she eventually met her estranged father as an adult.

A former slam poet, Chin has performed on stages at the Whitney Museum, the Knitting Factory, and the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. She was a Van Lier Fellow in fiction at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and a Lilly Lieb writer-in-residence at SUNY-Purchase. The American Book Review described her prose as “piquant,” and the German newspaper Taz wrote “her poetry reflects the noise and heat of the New York metropolis.”

She lives in Manhattan with her husband and daughter.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


9 thoughts on “Bio

  • Anna-Monique West

    Hi Ava, have you done a series on foraging for seeds? Our new website, SeedLiving, may also be of interest to you. SeedLiving has been called “one of the most potentially vibrant, versatile and engaging websites for buying, selling and swapping seeds.” (TreeHugger)

    My family recently built this site instead of putting solar panels on our house. SeedLiving has been developed during a time of rising crop prices, Monsanto buying more and more seed companies, and a flourish of small organic farms getting a lot of attention and doing great work.

    SeedLiving is a brand new international online venue for buying, selling and swapping open pollinated seeds and live plants. Users may choose to sell or swap within their own regions. The fees for using the site are pay-what-you-can.

    If users would like to give your seeds away for free but have the postage paid, they may put them on SeedLiving’s Trading Table. We are also looking for bloggers to post gardening news & tips for their growing area.

    At some point in the future, we hope that everyone with access to the internet will be able to make a living or supplement their income from open pollinated, untreated seeds and live plants, while, at the same time, promoting and enhancing biodiversity on our planet.

    Please help us spread the word!

    Anna-Monique West


    On facebook

  • Mike seltzer

    Just read your article in NYT about Crabapples. I am a member of a community garden in Kensington, Brooklyn that has a few trees. We have the larger sized and the smaller cherry sized as well. I have taken them and have been producing my own wine. It’s great and though it would be interesting for you to hear about another use for the fruit. Mike

  • peter del tredici

    Ava: I have enjoyed reading your excellent columns in the NYT and was wondering if you were familiar with my recently published book, Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast (Cornell University Press). If not, I can send you a review copy. take care, Peter

  • Ava Chin Post author

    Fantastic. Maybe next year I can come out to your community garden and see your trees. I’m curious about how you liked your wine from last season…

  • EW

    Ava, I have a question: I collected 2 large zip-lock bags of freshly fallen acorns (from both red & white oak) last fall up in Harriman State Park, only to be very disappointed to find out that over 80% of them contained worms / grubs. Do you have any tips on harvesting acorns that would help avoid this issue? PS: I’m a huge fan of your column.

  • Ava Chin Post author

    Thanks, EW. It’s always disappointing to find worm-infested acorns when you’re collecting for food.

    A nice, fresh acorn should:
    a) be smooth and without holes (even a single, tiny hole is a sign a critter has gotten to it)
    b) have a nice weight to it. If it’s too light there’s a good chance it’s been eaten.

    In fact, I can usually tell a good acorn as soon as I have it in hand because of the weight. It makes collecting a lot easier. Good luck this season, and thanks for the nice words of support!

  • Tim

    Hi Ava,

    I was reading your post about making maple syrup here in NYC. I have a maple in my yard, but there isn’t a big time span when it’s 40 during the day and 20 at night. Do you normally tap the trees here in march as is done upstate? Or should it be done earlier?

  • Ava Chin Post author

    Dear Tim,
    As you know, the weather’s pretty variable in NYC, but in general, I’ve tapped trees as early as January and as late as March. It all depends upon what kind of temps we’re having. Sorry I can’t be more specific, but that’s nature for you. Best thing to do this time of year is to start getting your equipment ready.
    Which borough are you in? Feel free to post again if you have any more questions.
    Happy holidays!