Meet Katy Chang. Part chef, artisan + short-film producer, Katy is helping to both promote globally local food and cuisine within the Washington D.C. area and producing it herself. At Eat's Place, her food incubator and "pop-uppery", Katy hosts chefs from around the globe who take over the kitchen for a one to two month pop-up! Over at Baba's Cooking School, Katy crafts her artisan products, cooks and shares short films she produces about the food she loves (in both English + Mandarin!).
What Inspired You To Start Your Company?
My father, who was a chef too, is the namesake of Baba’s Cooking School. Baba means “dad” in Mandarin.
Tell us about your products.
Baba’s Cooking School makes flavor starters: bitters, rice wine, seasoned salt, and sauces. Cooking is a joyful way to spend time with family and friends, and I love being part of that process. For us, education is a big component of that, to help inspire people through food.
What Does Being A Small-Batch “Artisan” Mean To You?
It means being a part of the community, knowing our sources and end customers in a way that honors our shared humanity for a bit. There’s something so satisfying about craft businesses and manufacturing on a human scale.
What is your favorite small-batch treat?
Bjorn’s Bakes cookies, which are made right here in Washington DC. Besides having an adorable logo, their salted chocolate cookies are so good (and gluten-free)!
What Drew You To Food?
I grew up in my dad’s kitchens and saw firsthand at a young age how transformative food can be on community. Now that I started my food incubator, EatsPlace, I’m happy to be a part of bringing people together to cook, eat and drink. Those activities are what begin conversations that turn into friendships.
Where Does Your Food Inspiration Come From?
It come from Washington DC. All the food producers and chefs in residence at the EatsPlace food incubator are so inspirational because they have big food dreams and are actively working on making that happen.
What Products Are You Working On Now?
Perfecting rice wine with a mother starter.
Latest Ingredient Obsession?
Micro-organisms: yeasts, bloomy molds, ferments and cultures.
What Did You Have For Dinner Last Night?
The latest chef in residence at EatsPlace, Bamayo. The chef Kunda Hobson is from Switzerland by way of Zambia and made a wonderful goat stew that I enjoyed with rice.
What Person, Living Or Dead, Would You Most Like To Have Try Your Product?
Buwei Yang Chao, who is often called the Julia Child of Chinese cooking. I’d love to see her reaction to my sauces. We have so many more ingredients available to us now, but she made her recipes work back when there was practically nothing readily had.
What’s The Best Piece Of Advice You’ve Gotten In Building Your Business? What Advice Would You Give Other artisans?
Best advice I’ve gotten is to follow through and get the job done. Advice to other artisans is the best time to start is right now!
What Other Local Food Artisans or Chefs Do You Admire?
I admire Kera Carpenter, who runs an amazing café Domku and also Nurish. She’s a transformative force in the city. I admire our farmers too, because that’s where it all begins, and I fell like they can never get enough credit: Bruce Wood of Dragon Creek Aquaculture and Bev Eggleston of Eco-Friendly Farms. Because they do their jobs so well, it makes being a chef easy.
If You Had To Choose Your Last Meal, What Would It Be?
Champagne and fugu.
Favorite Restaurant or Food Experience?
Most recently Jean-Talon Market in Montreal. There was so much to see, smell and taste. Everyone was so friendly and had so many great recipes to share. I spent all day there and left with four giant bags of produce and completely inspired but came home too tired to cook!
What Do You Enjoy Doing Outside of the Kitchen?
I like hanging out with my husband and our 16 year old dog. And I like drawing and making little films, often about food.
What’s Your Favorite Kitchen Soundtrack?
Miles Davis records. And they have to be records, even if sauce sometimes get stuck in the grooves.
What is your favorite recipe to make with the product featured in our basket?
Chicken à la Lala
Stay tuned later this week for Katy's full recipe!