Katy Chang, owner of Baba’s Cooking School and purveyor of the award-winning Lala Sauce, spoke on behalf of the Pickles category winners at the Good Foods Award Ceremony, January 16 2014 at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.
We loved what she had to say and wanted to share parts of the speech. The original post and speech in its entirety can be found at http://eatsplace.com/text-of-good-food-awards-speech/. You can also watch the video: Good Food Awards Ceremony 2014
You can taste our stories and histories through our food. Like many of us here, my work is inspired by my family. My baba – which means dad in Mandarin – was a chef and is the baba behind Baba’s Cooking School. His traditional black bean sauce was the inspiration for my Lala Sauce.
I’m from Washington DC, like my fellow winner, Gordy’s Pickle Jar. Just like I collect stories from my baba, others from all over this great country are avid collectors too. We gather backgrounds and tastes from all around the world and percolate it through our own vast experience and that tells our story. We collect from each other through classes like those offered by Firefly Kitchens. We collect from the wild, like Wine Forest, foraging from the sea. We also collect from the farmers that have an abundance of good things after the harvest, like Two Chicks Farm, preserving the bounty of their harvest.
What we amass, we bring home to share with family and friends. Be it wild fermentations, the mother starter, or baba’s wisdom that gets passed down from generation to generation, we collect and disseminate. By sharing, we connect our experiences and grow our community.
No matter how we do it, we always start from the ground up. We start from our culture, and the things that are carried through from generations. But we put our own stamp on it while honoring the past, like Marcia’s Munchies. And as picklers we often do it more literally through live, probiotic bacterial cultures. Both types of culture embody things grown and nurtured. The differences and diversity are our strength and beauty.
This is the paradox of food. We embrace many traditions and civilizations while remaining rooted to our time (seasonal) and place (local) like Jarred SF Brine, Rick’s Picks, and Pogue Mahone Pickles. Pickling can be considered the ultimate time travel machine. Makers such as the Brinery and Happy Pantry preserve so can look back and yet move forward with living cultures.
Sustainability speaks not just of culinary stability but also of economic growth. The SouthPort Grocery recognizes this. Confituras is preserving the local history of canning through community involvement. Oly Kraut and others know that contributing to the food system is a direct way to bolster to our communities. In addition to Lala sauce and dumplings, we at Baba’s Cooking School are starting-up a brick-and-mortar food and restaurant incubator in Washington DC to help chefs and food makers cut through the red tape so they can focus on what they do best: make tasty food.
The Baba’s Cooking School building was built 1919 and later abandoned. We’re taking what once was a vacant building, transforming the blight into a business, and helping to remove barriers of entry to those who want to share and sell food. We’re transforming a dump into dumplings.
As I blog my journey of opening Baba’s, I document and share our growth so readers can understand the passion and energy that goes into each and every item made for them. All of that culinary drama — they don’t call it being in a pickle or in a jam for nothing.
Eaters and makers, through this journey we discover our story, rewrite our story and cook and eat our way through it. Thank you to the Good Food Awards and the Seedling Projects, Sarah (Weiner), Alice (Waters), Ruth (Reichel), and everyone involved in this wonderful celebration of food.