Why is Chinese food so seldom considered “haute cuisine?” Supermarket shelves are stacked with dozens of award-winning extra virgin olive oils, so where are the high-end, artisanal Chinese sauces? A new Chinese slow food movement—driven by next-gen foodies—is celebrating quality ingredients and traditional techniques, as young entrepreneurs are producing their own premium soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and chili crisp. Join the world’s top artisanal soy sauce maker in Taiwan, a Hong Kong-born New York restaurateur, and a Shanghai-based food entrepreneur, and a New York City gourmet Taiwanese food retailer, as they explore the rise of a new back-to-roots movement in Chinese cuisine.
Mara King is a native of Hong Kong, chef and food professional with 2+ decades of experience. Co-founder of Ozuké, a fermented foods business that distributes throughout the US. She believes that good food is an inherent part of good living and an important step towards food justice. She is always looking for ways to put knowledge into practice and to share what she has learned. In 2017 Mara helped to produce a series of short films on Southwestern Chinese fermentation practices with Sandor Katz and Mattia Sacco Botto and is currently working on a book on Chinese fermentation as well as the second series of People’s Republic of Fermentation that will focus on Taiwan and China’s Eastern provinces. You can see her TedX presentation and the full series of People’s Republic of Fermentation on YouTube.
Lisa Cheng Smith is the founder of Yun Hai Taiwanese Pantry. Smith grew up in Houston Texas in mixed-heritage Taiwanese and American family, and learned to eat good things from her mom and, later on, to cook. Over many successive trips to Taiwan, her interested branched out from chicken legs (雞排) and “large intestines wrap small intestines” (大腸包小腸) into tea farming, slow food, and seasonal eating. She started Yun Hai because she was tired of carrying nice bottles of soy sauce and sesame oil home in her suitcase, when she wanted to just be able to buy them somewhere. She’s a lifelong student of Taiwanese food, culture and language.
Yi-Cheng Hsieh is a third generation soy sauce brewer at Yu Ding Xing. He is also the founder and chef of “Future Dining Table,” a series of food events connecting local farmers and consumers with vegetarian/plant-based cuisines, using artisanal soy sauce. Besides promoting the soy sauce brewing culture in Xiluo, Future Dining Table aims to introduce the terroir of Yunlin county, inviting experts from different fields to lead discussions about agriculture, placemaking, and regional revitalization.