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How Shirley Chung has pivoted her business and fights anti-Asian hate


Shirley Chung cooks at the Michael Muller’s HEAVEN, presented by The Art of Elysium, event on January 5, 2019 in Los Angeles.

Phillip Faraone | Entertainment Getty Images | Getty Images

When the pandemic struck, chef and reality TV star Shirley Chung quickly pivoted her restaurant business to weather the crisis.

Dealing with anti-Asian hatred was another matter.

As she heard alarming talk racist incidents and hate crimes that have recently occurred in the country, including murder of six women of Asian descent near Atlanta in March, Chung felt the need to speak up.

“Everything that was happening touched us so closely,” the 44-year-old said of herself and the Los Angeles chef community.

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Chung, who was a finalist on Bravo’s reality show “Excellent chef, “also suffered incidents at the restaurant in Culver City, Calif., Ms. Chi Café, that she is co-owner with her husband. His non-regular guests began to question its cleanliness, despite seeing disinfected tables in front of them. The back door was graffiti. In response, Chung added additional cleaning services and installed security cameras to make its customers and staff feel safe.

More recently, someone stole a takeout order from the counter, threatened her husband, Jimmy Lee, and shouted racist comments.

“It made me want to be even more vocal and really share my experience,” said Chung, who was born in Beijing and immigrated to the United States at 17.

While the couple’s parents wanted them to remain silent in fear for their safety, Chung said making the noise will help bring attention to the plight of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and the impact of hate on their businesses.

“We don’t want to be silent anymore,” she said. “We want to lead by example and let our parents see that everything is fine. The time has come.

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When Covid first struck, Chung quickly made adjustments to his business.

“It was the only way to survive,” she said.

Upon reopening, she resumed shipments of her frozen dumplings to Goldbelly, a gourmet food delivery company. In the first week her orders tripled and she knew she was on to something. She has increased her offerings and now has a full-fledged store. She also started doing digital cooking demonstrations.

While trying to find solutions, she started talking to other chefs in the area to exchange ideas.

“From these conversations, I realized that many owners and chefs at AAPI did not have access to many of the things that ‘traditional’ restaurants and chefs are used to, government grants and updated policies. to social media platforms to promote their business, ”said Chung, author of“Chinese heritage cuisine from my American cuisine. “

She began helping fellow AAPI business owners by sharing new policies and suggesting that they join the Independent Restaurant Coalition. She has also helped lesser-known restaurants access platforms like Goldbelly to increase their income, she said.

In March, Chung participated in the LA Food Gang’s fundraiser, Let’s Eat Together, which raised nearly $ 60,000 for struggling AAPI restaurants.

This Sunday, Chung will also be part of a weeklong event called Pop Off LA, in which some Los Angeles restaurants will collaborate with a one-of-a-kind creation. Part of the profits will go to a non-profit organization Off their plate, which will then hire struggling Asian restaurants to prepare meals for AAPI organizations.

Hope for the future



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