It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Phyllis Louise Harris (Née, Igo), 83, on September 19, 2018, in Minneapolis, MN.
Phyllis was food editor of Asian Pages newspaper from 1991 to 2011 and wrote more than five hundred articles reaching 150,000 readers each month in seven states. She wrote two cookbooks, was a contributor to Grolier’s Americana Encyclopedia, and was the primary researcher on 6,000 years of spice history for 660 Curries. Phyllis also served as executive director of the Midwest Asia Center from 1990-1992 where she created, produced and managed the Center’s Kite Festival with kites and flyers from China, Japan and the U.S., and brought in additional kites from India and Malaysia — bringing kite making and kite flying to more than a million people in Minnesota through twenty-six venues including the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Science Museum of Minnesota, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Hennepin County Libraries, and St. Paul and Minneapolis grade schools.
In 1994 she founded the Asian Culinary Arts Institutes, Ltd. dedicated to the preservation, understanding and enjoyment of the culinary arts of the Asia Pacific Rim. One of the Center’s first programs was to bring in two chefs from China to teach culinary students at the Hennepin Technical College and other venues in the Twin Cities.
Phyllis’ final book was “Asian Flavors: Changing the tastes of Minnesota since 1875,” which she produced for the Minnesota Historical Society Press with contributions from fellow Asian cuisine expert Raghavan Iyer, designer Wendy L. Jedlička, and photographer Tom Nelson. Taking the “Asian Flavors” project further she was the co-writer and consultant for the Minnesota Public Television program based on the book, for which she and the show won an Emmy.
Before launching the Asian Culinary Arts Institutes, Ltd., Phyllis operated her own advertising and marketing agency, Communications Etcetera, Inc. For thirty years her agency served clients in Minneapolis, New York City, and London including 3M, Pillsbury, Jackson Graves, Creative Lighting, Gager’s Handicraft, Bowery Bank, Metropolitan Life Insurance, Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman, JC Penny, Advertising Distributors of America, and Royal Mail Advertising. Her work in business, retail, and financial advertising received a number of national and international awards such as the Mail Advertising Service Association John Howie Wright Cup (three-time winner), National Retail Merchants Association Gold Award for Mail Advertising (two-time winner) and Silver Award for Newspaper Advertising (two-time winner). In addition to her many awards, Communications Etcetera, Inc. is recognized as one of the first woman-owned advertising and marketing agencies in Minnesota. At a time when women were only allowed membership in Ad Club as part of a separate women’s group, Phyllis refused to be considered a second-class player, and relished the national awards she and her team won in this male-dominated field.
Phyllis earned her bachelor’s degree in broadcast/journalism from the University of Minnesota (1957), and was awarded culinary certificates from the Culinary Institute of America, Chinese Institute in America (NYC), California Culinary Academy, and Disney Institute. She had additional culinary training with master chefs in China, and studied for over a decade under her mentor, Chinese cuisine master Florence Lin. Phyllis also taught Chinese and other Asia Pacific Rim cuisines for many years.
Phyllis joins her husband Roy Harris, parents Lewis Schee Igo Sr and Phyllis Marie Igo (Née, Aeschliman), sister Claudia M. Jorgensen (Don), and brother Lewis Schee Igo Jr (Karen).
Phyllis is survived by daughter Wendy L. Jedlička (Mark McCahill), cousin Virgil Seifert, nieces and nephews Michele Jorgensen, Greg Jorgensen (Melissa), Lewis S. Igo (Heidi), and Kristine Igo, as well as grand nieces and nephews.
Photo: ©2012 Tom Nelson, tnphoto.com
Read more about Asian food in Minnesota and try more than 160 recipes in Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875, in bookstores and on amazon.cm.
Buy online: Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875
Watch the EMMY® award winning “Asian Flavors” television show based on the book on tpt MN. Check local TV listings for broadcast times or view the show streaming online at: