Ang of Fafa Dumplings
When Ang got the diagnosis that they had Celiac Disease two years ago, they couldn’t stand the thought of not being able to eat delicious (and gluten-heavy) dumplings ever again. Unwilling to accept being denied a food so deeply connected to their culture and identity, they quickly got to recipe testing, despite having no formal culinary background. One year of trial and error later, Ang had perfected the recipe for the ultimate gluten-free dumpling, and FaFa (meaning “flower” in Cantonese) was born. ⠀⠀
The second I tasted @fafadumplings for the first time I quickly became one of Ang's regular customers. Since Ang also happens to be my neighbor, I was lucky enough to get to know them during my near biweekly dumpling pick-ups. In addition to loving their food, I've loved learning about how Ang is a true badass that dove headfirst into creating a business focused on sharing their food & culture with members of their community. And this probably goes without saying, but their dumplings are BOMB, whether you eat gluten or not.
BAYDISH: Why did you decide to start your own food business?
ANG: A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, which means I’m on a strict gluten free diet for life. My first thought after I found out was “Wait, no more dumplings for life?! Nope, that’s not gonna happen. I have to figure this out!” So my goal is to build a business that allows me to continue to share and eat this food that I love with others.
BAYDISH: What's the most challenging thing about starting your own business?
ANG: Self doubt. Starting a business really makes you face yourself and your fears! And transitioning from community non profit food justice work to starting a business. It’s an exciting challenge to hold onto my values and idealism while trying to figure out how to make a business that is financially sustainable and thriving to have a larger impact.
BAYDISH: What's the most rewarding thing?
ANG: Community! It’s been wonderful to meet people who have been so supportive and generous and willing to help. Especially other queer, womxn, and people of color entrepreneurs. The Bay has so many inspiring entrepreneurs and chefs who are creating great models of game changing food businesses that are about caring for people, culture, local economy, and the planet. Special shout out to Sana from Diaspora Co and Jessica from Red Bay Coffee!
BAYDISH: What do you like about being part of the Bay Area food community?
ANG: There’s a lot of inspiration from people making, growing, and selling culturally rooted foods that are authentic to their lives and experiences. I love that there is more and more room for people not to get pigeonholed in “ethnic” boxes and be able to bring their full selves and their values to the table. And that people are honoring the legacy of food justice and struggle that continues to make that room possible. There are so many examples across the food system from Namu Farm to Reem’s.
BAYDISH: Why are dumplings significant to you?
ANG: Making and eating dumplings remind me of special moments with my mom growing up. They’re about sharing love, community, culture, and celebration through food. Hosting dumpling parties my whole adult life, I’ve made dumplings with hundreds of people and it’s been such a great way to connect and celebrate, especially as an introvert.
BAYDISH: How does food help you connect to your culture? Why is it important to share your food and cultural identity with others?
ANG: I was bilingual in Cantonese until I was 7 years old. Losing language
was hard, but assimilation and racism growing up in New Hampshire was real. So food became the primary way I connect to family, culture, and community. My Chinese grandmother and aunties loved me with food. The owners of Chinese restaurant in town looked out with free after school snacks, our family would convene and celebrate over big Chinese feasts, and I carried that with me into how I connect, love, and celebrate with people. And as someone who is Chinese and has to be gluten free, I want make and share accessible versions of the food I grew up so I can still stay connected with my culture. And I want to push back on the ignorant idea that Chinese food isn’t healthy.