Kitsby wouldn’t be here today without a love of food and spending time in the kitchen. With that said, we are excited to be running our first ever recipe contest, to find three of our next favorite dessert recipes! And we are proud to be partnering with Subtle Asian Cooking, a Facebook group that has become a community for people passionate about Asian cuisine. Whether you are a chef at home, in a professional kitchen, or both, and even if you don’t see yourself as a chef at all, we want you to show us what you’ve got!
More details on the recipe contest will be posted tomorrow, October 1, in SAC's official announcement. But to properly introduce them and this collaboration to you, I spoke with SAC’s Founder/Director, Kevin, and Marketing Chair, Maggie, to learn more about them and their group!
C: What was the motivation behind the creation of Subtle Asian Cooking?
Kevin: As weird as it sounds, I created the group while I was not paying attention in class (laughs). I noticed that there were a lot of posts asking about Asian food and cooking within Asian groups on Facebook. So, I made a spontaneous decision! Asian food has become so popular in recent years and I thought having a group where people can share their recipes and educate each other about Asian cooking would be a great idea. I also feel like the younger generations of Asians are slowly getting out of touch with their roots, and learning more about that through food is a great way to start. As for non-Asians, we hope to teach them more about Asian cooking in a way that allows them to fully respect the traditions and dishes, so that they are able to properly introduce it into their lives. Overall, I just want everyone to enjoy Asian cooking as much as I do in a wholesome manner.
Maggie: While I didn’t create the group, I think Kevin and I share the same vision, in that we want to create a community that shares passion and knowledge related to cooking. Everyone has their own journey when it comes to cooking, and a lot of people didn’t have the privilege of learning from their parents and growing up in a culinary household. While I myself got my love of food from my parents, I learned my techniques from a culmination of YouTube videos, and trial and error. When we were creating SAC, every community rule was intended to make learning as easy as possible for members, hence the typical long, text-filled posts you see on our page.
C: What do you think is most special about Asian food or Asian cooking?
Kevin: I think the most special things are the diversity of ingredients, the long history, and the cultural impact it has. And Asian food would not be what it is today without them. In times of struggle and in times of prosperity, we were able to create and combine the ingredients we had on hand to create many of the dishes that we love, and are still around to this day.
Maggie: What makes any cuisine special is the ingredients that it has access to, and the history behind the food that influenced how it was cooked and consumed. For example, Japan has so many unique roots and vegetables that come from the island climate, and incredible ways of processing and preserving them. Countries like China, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam have such amazing street food because of the struggles people faced during hardships, which led to creative ways to make cheap foods delicious and accessible. All continents have their own history and culture, but the flavors from Asia are still my personal favorite!
C: What do you think is missing from the current Asian food scene in America? (A style, an ingredient, anything you can think of!).
Maggie: I definitely think it’s the street food style of cooking. In Asia, the absolute best thing about the food is the accessibility of it, both in location and price. In America, it’s simply impossible to get Asian food with the same convenience. There’s undoubtedly a lot of really great and authentic Asian establishments, but I’ll never stop missing the street food.
Kevin: There are 3 things missing in the Asian food scene in the West. The first one is definitely street food, because in Asia there is always cheap and delicious food available on every street. But I guess this is not really possible to have in the West until food safety rules are a bit more lax! Second, the more unknown Asian dishes. From my travels in Asia I discovered so many dishes that are quite common in their countries but are very unknown or not as popular in the West. As much as I love pho, dimsum, bibimbap, and sushi for bringing Asian food to light, I hope people can explore beyond them. I also hope we can have these unknown dishes available for more people to try (and to satisfy my own cravings!). Lastly, I think more people should introduce Asian food into their home even if they are not Asian. I want Asian food to become a regular thing in many households and it should not always be this special thing to go out for or make, which is what SAC is here for!
C: Why and when did you fall in love with cooking?
Kevin: I fell in love with cooking at a young age because I just love to eat. People usually say that they love to eat but hate cooking, but that’s not me since I love to do both! Cooking is fun in the sense that it is like art, and then your reward is the dish that you get to eat.
Maggie: Honestly, for me it was more for survival. I had never cooked until I moved out for college, and in my first semester I had no dining hall so it was either cook or eat out. I’ve always been a stingy person, so it just made sense to start cooking. A month later, I started posting my meals to a private instagram for my friends and we would challenge each other to cook. Eventually, I was cooking every day and I couldn’t stop! It has only become bigger and bigger in my life.
C: What are you most excited about in regards to this collaboration with Kitsby?
Maggie: I’m really, really excited for our members to have this opportunity! I think our group has some of the most creative and (culinarily) passionate people I’ve ever seen, and I’ve always wanted to give them a chance to showcase their talents beyond Facebook. Kitsby is expanding the accessibility of Asian flavors in a really unique way, and I think our members can help add their ideas to the brand and also benefit from the products.
Kevin: For me, it’s getting the individuals within the community to show off their skills, and giving them the opportunity to see what it's like to work in the food industry if they aren’t familiar with it. This collaboration will be a good starting point for them and allow them to promote themselves, and hopefully also empower more Asians to step into the food world.
C: One last question that we kind of have to ask, what is your favorite Asian dessert?
Maggie: Oh my God, it’s cruel to make me pick one! When I was home, I used to get these Hong Kong bubble egg waffle things at least 3 times a week, so those might be my favorite! However I also love: red bean buns, boba, taiyaki, polvoron, and mango sticky rice.
Kevin: Usually, anything as long as it has my favourite Asian dessert flavors like matcha, red bean, black sesame, pandan, and taro or ube. They can be hot, cold, baked, solid, or liquid, and I will like them if they had those flavors. But if I had to absolutely choose, it would have to be either che banh lot from Vietnam, Korean shaved ice (bingsoo), or Japanese mochi.