Ms. Lo was born on May 4, 1937, in Guangzhou, China, the capital of Guangdong Province, also known by the Anglicized name Canton and the home of Cantonese cuisine. Her father, Pak Wen Lo, worked for the government, and her mother, Miu How Chen, was a homemaker. Her family fled the country during the Chinese Revolution in the 1940s and settled in Hong Kong, where she met the American journalist Fred Ferretti, who was on assignment for the military publication Stars and Stripes. The two married in 1959 and moved to Queens before settling in Montclair. (Mr. Ferretti died last March.)
Dinner party guests would rave about her Chinese cooking, so in 1972 she started conducting cooking classes out of their home. The couple were inseparable, Stephen Ferretti said, and shared a deep connection over food. They even reviewed restaurants together for The New York Times, where the elder Mr. Ferretti began working in 1969.
“We would go to a restaurant, it could be Italian or Chinese, we would eat something, and my dad would look at Eileen and say, ‘What is in here?’” Stephen Ferretti said. “She would say, ‘This is double fried, the oil is old, they are supposed to use peanut oil but they used corn or vegetable.’”
Ms. Lo’s first cookbook, “The Dim Sum Book,” was published in 1981. In it, she taught people how to prepare dishes like won tons, siu mai and char siu bao, buns stuffed with barbecued pork, offering precise instructions in a warm, inviting voice. “These are things that people weren’t aware of or exposed to” at the time, Mr. Ferretti said. “I remember she would do the soup dumplings and people would be like, ‘How do you get soup in here?’”