Hot Wok

Hot Wok restaurant owners Fengling “Vivian” Wu and Shan “Sam” Chao are seen in February at their restaurant in Copperas Cove. Wu died in a traffic accident May 28.

Shan Chao, or Sam as everyone calls him, has been in the restaurant business for as long as he can remember.

He had a restaurant in Killeen, but his Cove customers loved his food so much they begged him to relocate. That’s just what he did when he opened Hot Wok in Copperas Cove in July.

Chao’s love of food began a long way from Central Texas.

Born in Taiwan into a wealthy family who owned a local restaurant, Chao learned all he knows from his parents and relatives.

“Even when we lived in Taiwan, I didn’t party or smoke or drink,” Sam Chao said. “All I did was work and go home, and I still do the same today.”

When Sam Chao was young, his mother told him that only he could decide what he wanted to be.

“I only have a high school diploma, so I had to work extra hard to build a life for my family,” said Chao, apologizing for his broken English. “Today I work double-time because I want to be like an engineer, but with food.”

The other value his mother taught him was caring for others.

“Although we were wealthy, I used to help my friends sell produce in the market,” Chao said. “Being poor doesn’t matter, we are all the same. You can’t judge people by what they have or don’t have. That same person can change your life one day.

“You always have to look for the good in people.”

Chao met the love of his life in September and they married in January. They now run the restaurant together.

“It was love at first sight,” said Vivian Chao, who hails from Shanghai. “He’s the kind of person who takes care of everything and likes things to be perfect. He’s also very picky and I like that. It’s good for business. I like that he shops online and buys me purses frequently, too.”

Chao has three children ages 2, 6 and 22. His oldest son also works at his restaurant.

Chao loves to fix things and work with his hands. He describes himself as easy-going, but there’s one thing he doesn’t tolerate.

“I don’t like it when people waste food,” he said. “I can handle a lot but not that. People should eat as much as they want, but never throw good food away.”

Hot Wok Chinese Restaurant has dine-in, take out and delivery and is located at 411 U.S. Highway 190, Suite 101, Copperas Cove. Call 254-547-8999.

Corinne Lincoln-Pinheiro | Herald

A journalist by trade, Corinne has written for both the military and civilian populations. She has a Master's in Writing and Bachelor's in English. She is also a military spouse and her family is currently stationed at Fort Hood.

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