Why is it easier to love other people than to love ourselves? Why do we feel lonely or lost, even when we have a super busy social life and a decent career? Why does it sometimes feel like a lie when people ask us “how are you?” and we say “good!”.
Crystyl Mo is best known for her work in the food world, as a food writer, entrepreneur and TV personality, but recently, after 15 years in the industry, she’s been thinking more about questions of self-awareness, purpose and compassion, and how she can bring more meaning into her daily work.
About three years ago, Mo decided to go “back to school” to add a second career to her plate: life coach. She now works with private clients and companies, and has just launched an online course focused on love and relationships. She says her motivation to move into coaching stems from her own inner work.
“I wanted to help others heal from challenging childhoods, insecurity and confusion, just as I’ve worked on healing myself,” she says. “If I can do it, anyone can”.
First tell us a bit about yourself, what first brought you to Shanghai, and what you’ve been doing in all that time here.
I came to China way back in 1996 to study Chinese at Nanjing University and Tsinghua University. After graduating, I was lucky to be in the right time at the right place and got a job as China correspondent for a Time Warner magazine. A few years later, I began freelance writing about my favorite topics: culture, art and food.
Eventually, after meeting my chef husband, I focused exclusively on food writing, right when Shanghai’s restaurant scene was taking off. I was a founding editor of Time Out Shanghai and spent almost five years writing about Shanghai’s restaurant openings (and closings), from street vendors to Michelin-recognized chefs.
随后，在与遇到我的厨师丈夫后，便开始专注于美食主题的写作，当时的上海正处在餐饮业迅速发展的时候。作为Time Out Shanghai的创始编辑，我花了将近五年的时间撰写关于上海的餐厅开业（当然也有歇业关门）的文章，从街头摊贩写到米其林厨师。
You’re an Academy Chair for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. What does your role entail?
I am so fortunate to get to travel the world visiting restaurants on the World’s 50 Best List, from Peru to Moscow. I am so inspired by chefs with big missions and incredible passion.
My specific role is to choose the anonymous panel of voters each year in my region of China and Korea. Their votes are combined with over 1000 other panelists’ chosen by my fellow Academy Chairs around the world, to create the yearly list of the World’s and Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.
You and your husband Anthony are one helluva power couple. Tell us what he does and how you guys met.
Of course we met in a restaurant! My husband Anthony Zhao was a chef at the now-closed Laris at Three on the Bund. At the time, I was writing about Laris for Conde Nast Traveler as one of the top new restaurants in the world. I went in the kitchen to meet the chefs, saw my husband and asked for him to be wrapped up so I could take him home (well, that’s almost how it went).
我们当然是在一家餐馆相遇的啦！我的丈夫Anthony Zhao当时在外滩三号（现已关闭）的Laris餐厅担任厨师。当时，我正在为Conde Nast Traveler杂志撰文，关于世界顶级新餐厅之一的Laris。我走进厨房去见厨师，就遇到了我现在的丈夫，当时我请他打包可以让我带回家（嗯，其实现在看来基本就是这样发展的）。
Since then, he’s retired from the brutal hours of fine dining to open his own successful mid-range restaurants, Holy Cow Hotpot, Mi Xiang Yuan Shanghainese cuisine and his brand new Wenzhou cuisine place, Joyful Restaurant.
从那以后，他从繁忙的高级餐厅的工作中撤出，自己开了几间非常成功的中档餐厅，Holy Cow潮汕牛肉火锅，米香园上海菜和他的全新温州美食餐厅，Joyful Restaurant。
Anthony now has a flexible schedule – so he can hit the gym (he’s been doing MMA for 10 years), practice archery and spend lots of time with our 7-year-old daughter. He also does TV shows, consulting and travels with me often around the world.
安东尼现在的时间表相当灵活 — 所以他可以去健身房（他已经做了MMA 10年），练习射箭，并花了很多时间陪伴我们7岁的女儿。他还经常在世界各地做电视节目，咨询项目和旅行。
You’ve spent your entire career in the business of food and writing about it. Why the move to coaching?
I love my career in food and in fact I have started doing mindfulness workshops at restaurants around the world, including Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Mirazur in France.
我热爱我之前关于美食的职业经历，事实上我已经开始在世界各地的餐厅做有关正念的研讨会，包括美国的Blue Hill at Stone Barns和法国的Mirazur。
I grew up in a poor household but we greatly valued social justice and community activism. After many years of eating fancy meals, I wanted to grow my career to have a positive impact on the greater public, the kind of people who will never be able to eat at this type of expensive venue.
I also have done a lot of self-development work and I saw the power of the healing journey in myself and in my relationships. That’s how I decided to become a coach and I now have some overlap in my two careers, such as giving workshops to restaurant staff.
You have friends visiting Shanghai. What’s the one Shanghainese restaurant you’ll bring them to?
The exquisite vegetarian Fu He Hui is one of my favorite restaurants and not just because it’s on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants List! The zen atmosphere filled with antiques from the owner’s collection, the beautiful, thoughtful vegetarian cuisine by one of China’s top talents Tony Lu, and the incredible tea pairings all make this place unmissable.
Why did you develop a digital coaching course?
I love coaching clients on-on-one and in workshops but I can only reach a limited number of people in a day. I wanted to make this material accessible and affordable to everyone.
Especially in China, I see a lot of repression and hiding from feelings, I see a lot of avoidance of taboo topics. For this audience, I think an online course is a great way people can start self-development work.
This course is particularly aimed at people who grew up in a Chinese family, whether in the Mainland or abroad. I talk about the huge generation gap, the parenting done through control and sacrifice, and the pressures of too much homework for kids. But I also address a lot of universal issues, such as how to maintain a loving long-term relationship.
Who can benefit from this course?
Anyone who’s interested in what’s underneath the surface. Anyone who wants to improve their relationships. I think a lot of us feel there’s more to life than we’re currently accessing.
We know we’re avoiding thinking about some of our hardest problems, some of our past traumas, we just don’t know where to begin. In my course I share simple concepts that anyone can understand and apply.
What are some practical tips you share?
I share my self awareness practice and how I use it with my mother in law! I have some very practical tips on self-esteem and how to build it.
Probably the easiest classes to put to work immediately is on friendship and mentors. I talk about how important it is to actively look for your gurus, as well as friends who inspire and champion you, rather than people who bring you down.
Watch the trailer to learn below more about Crystyl Mo’s course on love and relationships. Add Crystyl Mo’s coach WeChat with any questions about her coaching or her course
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Add Crystyl Mo’s coach WeChat with any questions about her coaching or her course.