Expanding Palates and Minds with Jing Gao of Fly by Jing
If you’re at all into food – calling all Bon Appetit groupies and Snaxbois – you probably already have a jar of Fly by Jing’s Sichuan Chili Crisp in your pantry…so you can understand how absolutely stoked I am to be talking with Fly by Jing founder Jing Gao today on the pod. We’ll learn how Jing built a business, reclaimed her birth name and made everything taste better with her namesake jars of deliciousness.
While you already know I’m a big nutrition nerd, I’m also a bit of a nerd for food brands. My first job as a dietitian was for a chain of health food stores so I cemented my interest in discovering new brands pretty early in my career. So much so that when I travel, I always go to a grocery store or two to bring back things I can’t find at home.
And one one of those trips, I brought back Fly by Jing’s Sichuan Chili Crisp. Jing has cracked open the food world here in North America with her namesake line of condiments – more than just chili crisp by the way – bringing exceptional quality and flavour with a side of serious style.
Her journey from business school graduate to CEO of all things flavour is a story of reclaiming identity, and living your passion that is so incredibly inspiring.
And today’s conversation is going to take us all sorts of places, from Jing’s nomadic childhood to working for Blackberry in Beijing (remember people had blackberries?!?) to the flavours of Chengdu’s kitchens to the tradeshow floor in Los Angeles. We’ll learn about what makes Sichuan cuisine so unique, what it’s actually like to start a food brand via kickstarter and more. Jing shares how food became a vehicle for reconnecting to her cultural identity and how she’s on a mission to elevate consciousness through flavour.
Jing also has a brand new book filled with gorgeous recipes, The Book of Sichuan Chili Crisp, that you’ll want to read cover to cover. I know you are going to love every moment of this conversation, whether you’re interested in food, entrepreneurship, or self-discovery.
About Jing Gao:
JING GAO is a chef, entrepreneur, and renowned expert on Chinese cuisine, and she’s on a mission to bring uncensored Chinese flavours to the global table. She was born in Chengdu, Sichuan. Gao founded Baoism, an award-winning modern-Chinese fast casual restaurant in Shanghai, before founding her successful premium Chinese food company Fly By Jing. Her culinary innovations have been featured in leading magazines and food sections, her personal story as a cultural ambassador and entrepreneur has been seen on the BBC and CNN, and she has been featured in the pages of Forbes, Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, and more. Fly By Jing began as a direct-to-consumer ecommerce brand and can now be found in stores across North America.
On this episode we chat about:
- How Jing’s nomadic childhood impacted her sense of identity and place
- The “fly” restaurants of Chengdu that inspire Jing’s food to this day
- How a corporate job posting in Beijing lead to Jing’s immersion in the food world
- What makes Sichuan cuisine so special
- The suitcase of ingredients Jing packed for her pop up dinners around the globe
- What it’s really like to start your business with kickstarter
- Jing’s mission to change perspectives and biases about Chinese cuisine
- How Fly by Jing gave her the strength to reclaim her birth name
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