Broadening the Reach of AAPI Cuisine: From Cookbooks to the “Ethnic Aisle”
By: Vaidehi Kudhyadi
It’s May, which means it is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. To celebrate, we’re spotlighting interviews with industry leaders who are bringing AAPI cuisine to wider audiences - whether online through food media, with beautiful cookbooks, in eateries, or with products that are reclaiming the “ethnic aisle.” These thought-provoking and delicious interviews are just a sampling of archived episodes that amplify the food, culture, and people of the AAPI community - listen below and keep exploring our library, including shows hosted by AAPI women like Japan Eats!, Feast Meets West, Eat Your Words, and My Family Recipe!
Tech Bites Episode 232: With Warm Welcome: Amplifying the Asian American Culinary Community: With Warm Welcome started in 2019 as a podcast with the intention to bring together the Asian American restaurant community. Today it is a digital media platform with a magazine, pop-ups, merchandise, and events on Clubhouse. On this episode, host Jennifer Leuzzi talks with Arnold Byun, founder of With Warm Welcome, about how the mission and community of WWW have evolved to meet the challenges of the moment.
Feast Meets West Episode 82: Reclaiming the Ethnic Aisle with Omsom: Vanessa Pham and Kim Pham are first-generation Vietnamese-Americans, sisters, and co-founders of Omsom, a brand of Asian pantry staples that have been designed to make cooking your favorite Asian dishes with uncompromised flavors and hard-to-find ingredients possible in any home kitchen. While launching a new product is tough enough as it is, they did it in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic this May. The hosts talk to Vanessa and Kim about how they brought the Omsom concept to life, and how they adapted the launch to work for these unusual times.
Japan Eats! Episode 220: Smitten By Japanese Snacks: Our guest is Danny Taing who is the founder of Bokksu. Bokksu means box in Japanese. His company Bokksu delivers to your door the experience of tasting authentic Japanese snacks, candies, and teas sourced directly from generations-old small family businesses. If you visit Japan, you will instantly know that Japanese people are quite obsessed with both savory and sweet snacks. Elaborately packaged products are ubiquitous and you can easily get addicted to them. In this episode, we will discuss how Danny’s trip to Japan made him want to share these snacks with friends, why he decided to start a business to deliver them to your door outside Japan, unique Japanese snacks, artisanal producers he works with and much, much more!
Feast Meets West Episode 87: To Asia, With Love ft. Hetty McKinnon: Hetty McKinnon, the internationally renowned cookbook author and food writer, joins the hosts of Feast Meets West to chat about her latest book To Asia, With Love. It’s filled with a mix of comforting Asian dishes that her Cantonese mother prepared for her growing up, as well as her modern spin on favorites for her own family. They talk about her incredible culinary journey across continents and the powerful ability to capture identity in home cooked meals.
Feast Meets West Episode 86: Asian Veggies Delivered ft. Joe Boo: For Feast Meets West’s first episode of 2021, the hosts chatted with Joe Boo, Founder of Asian Veggies, a business born out of the pandemic. Joe started Asian Veggies, a New York City based grocery delivery service, as an effort to save his dad’s wholesale vegetable business in Brooklyn when COVID hit. In the span of a year, the delivery service expanded from selling 40 to 650 products. Tune in to hear about the incredible journey of Asian Veggies and what’s next.
In The Sauce Episode 151: Building Connections: Andrea Xu is the CEO and co-founder of Umamicart, an online one-stop-shop with Asian cuisine lovers at the very center. Umamicart has 2 missions: Helping customers seamlessly access delicious products across Asian cuisines; and secondly, providing a new digital window for mom-and-pop, immigrant-led businesses to reach consumers. On this episode of ITS, Andrea and Ali talk about learning how to ask the right questions, how building takes crazy turns, and why an early, dedicated community is so important.
Feast Meets West Episode 88: The Hottest Chicken in Town ft. Eric Huang: In 2020, Eric Huang left his sous chef position at Eleven Madison Park to open his own restaurant. However, the pandemic forced Eric to switch gears. It led him back to his family's restaurant, Peking House, where he started Pecking House—a delivery concept for chili fried chicken dinners, so successful it has an 8-week long waitlist. Tune in to hear Eric talk about his new culinary path, one that he never expected but is far more rewarding and fun than he ever thought it would be.
Meat and Three Episode 115: The Flavor of Memory: In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Meat and Three dedicated their episode to memory and how it has shaped AAPI food experiences. Many of us have probably eaten meals where long after the plate has been cleared, the taste still lingers in our mind. But we don’t just remember food — food can spark and capture memory as well. For those who have immigrated across countries, food can act as a vessel through which the flavors and stories of their past live on. Their episode explores how the smell, taste, or story behind dishes can inspire art, preserve heritage and forge connections across cultures and continents. First, they visit a family in the Bay Area to learn about how food has evoked nostalgia for them after immigrating from China. Next, they hear from an educational organization based in O’ahu about their mission of promoting environmental preservation. They then head to the backstage of a one-woman play, where they talk to the playwright about her relationship to food as an Indian-American. Finally, they flip through the pages of diasporic Vietnamese cookbooks to discover the narratives embedded within.
My Family Recipe Episode 2: Estrangement, Identity & a Wok with Jenny Dorsey: Jenny Dorsey was 28 when she decided to lay claim to a cultural heirloom: a wok. This tool is synonymous with Chinese cooking but for Jenny it was couched in complex emotions and family memories. She speaks about her childhood and the pressure immigrant families face to assimilate. Jenny also unpacks how her wok became a symbol of sadness, shame, and ultimately forgiveness. The second half of the episode transitions from the personal to the political, honing on Jenny’s work as a chef, food writer, and the founder of the non-profit community think tank, Studio ATAO. Jenny shares her thoughts on the impact and limitations that personal essays pose to the food media landscape. Host Arati Menon talks with Jenny about exploring the honesty and beauty of a personal essay while maintaining boundaries so as not to exploit it.
Eat Your Words Episode 366: Red Hot Kitchen: Diana Kuan returns to the studio to talk about her latest cookbook, Red Hot Kitchen. Also the author of her first book, The Chinese Takeout Cookbook, Diana talks about why spicy sauces from Asia are great when made at home, and often surprisingly easy. She takes us through some of the classic condiments throughout the book, and how chili peppers got to Asia not so long ago. She also shares shortcut and vegetarian-friendly versions of some of the classics. Perfect for everyday use or your Lunar New Year feast, Asian sauces and the recipes in her book are endlessly adaptable.
In the Sauce Episode 81: Building Ethically and Radically: Sana Javeri Kadri is the Founder of Diaspora Co., the spice company on a mission to decolonize the spice trade. Sana started Diaspora in 2017 to create a radically new vision of how American consumers buy Indian spices. On this episode of ITS, Sana and Ali discuss appropriation versus appreciation and the power of ethical sourcing.
Feast Meets West Episode 85: The Purest Fish Sauce Ft. Red Boat: The hosts of Feast Meets West chat with Tracy and Tiffany Pham of Red Boat Fish Sauce, a product beloved by chefs and home cooks around the world. Tracy and Tiffany talk about what makes their fish sauce special, what the company is making beyond fish sauce, and what it’s like to work with the Red Boat founder, their dad, Cuong Pham. The sisters also reveal a new product launching this summer.
Feast Meets West Episode 10: Chef Yo of Pinto Garden + Thai Breakfast: In Feast Meets West's first installment of the "Asian Breakfast Series", Lynda and Iris discuss why Asian breakfast hasn't quite yet taken off in the US. Chef Yo of seasonal Thai restaurant, Pinto Garden, joins them in the studio to shed some light on what breakfast looks like in Thailand, and to talk about Pinto Garden's new Thai-inspired brunch menu.