Jen Lin-Liu was born in Chicago, grew up in Southern California, and has spent most of her adult life writing, traveling, and cooking overseas. She is the author of Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China and On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta.

Jen graduated from Columbia University in New York City, receiving a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College and a master’s from the Columbia School of Journalism. She first moved abroad in 2000 on a Fulbright Fellowship to Beijing, China. After working as freelance journalist in Beijing and Shanghai for half a decade, she founded Black Sesame Kitchen, a private kitchen and cooking school in Beijing in 2008.

Her travels and assignments have taken her to several dozen countries from Asia to the Middle East to the Caribbean, including Burma, Iran, and Cuba. Most recently, she and her husband spent two years living in Havana, Cuba where she found beauty, tragedy, and humor on an island where every day is an adventure.

Jen is married to Craig Simons, an author and diplomat. They have two children.