SHIRLEY JEAN (FIFI) CHAO, the beloved restaurant columnist, passed away in late 2017. Fifi was a pioneer in her field, as the first restaurant journalist for Orange Coast magazine. She also reviewed restaurants in the Orange County Business Journal beginning in 1990, all the way through to her retirement 26 years later. The legacy of her restaurant, wine, and travel newsletter “Chao’s Dinesty,” is one of our delicious lasting memories. Fifi would often host evening dinners with her husband Patrick at local restaurants to entertain her guests while promoting her restaurateur friends’ businesses. Fifi’s dinners are legendary for their great food, great service, and great times. Everyone was made to feel at home when they dined with the Chao family. Fifi’s contagious sense of humor and ability to draw people in were always evident in all that she did. In addition to being a journalist, Fifi was a lecturer, author, teacher, radio personality and fantastic home cook. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She and her husband Patrick celebrated 55 years of marriage this past June. At the age of 81, after battling cancer for two years, Fifi Chao passed away at her home in Irvine. Orange County has lost one of its most beloved restaurant journalists, but she will always be a part of its history.
Fifi and the small elf she carried on her shoulder that “made her do it” will certainly be remembered fondly.