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Sweet and Sour

Author: katie zhu and Nicole Zhu

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Sweet and Sour is a show exploring different facets of Asian American life.
31 Episodes
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This week, we sat down with the founders of the Asian American Feminist Collective: Julie Kim, Rachel Kuo, Senti Sojwal, and Tiffany Diane Tso. They discuss their approach to an Asian American feminist movement, which pushes to encompass the plurality of people’s histories and lived experiences. They also talk about their experience building welcoming community spaces, particularly for those new to social justice. On Hella Asian, the AAFC founders discuss their unique habits around saving things.
Kathleen Tso and Vicki Ho take us behind the scenes of Banana Magazine, a magazine centered on contemporary Asian culture and the voices of Asian creatives. They tell us how they’ve grown their annual print publication over the last few years, as well as their approach to its design and visual style. They share their experiences negotiating work, life, and Banana Magazine, and how they always prioritize their friendship first. On Hella Asian, Kathleen talks about a napkin drawer she started at work and Vicki wows us with her ability to debone a fish with her mouth.
Founder and CEO Mitra Raman takes us behind-the-scenes of The Buttermilk Company, a delivery startup that makes authentic Indian dishes that can be cooked by just adding hot water. She discusses her emotional connection to her mom’s home-cooking, making the leap from engineer to full-time entrepreneur, and how she’s building her company with an emphasis on health, authenticity, and community. On Hella Asian, Mitra explains how her “whole life is Hella Asian.”
Author and founder Diana Zheng shares her journey of leaning into discomfort. Diana discusses her cookbook, Jia! The Food of Swatow and the Teochew Diaspora, digging into the Teochew culture, language and particular nuance of being rooted in China with global influences. She shares a few of her go-to recipes and how her cookbook then led her to founding Gwan-im, a plate company that makes modern chinoiserie with other artists of color. On Hella Asian, Diana professes her love of soup, regardless of weather.
Cofounder and chief creative officer Hannah Chung tells us about Sproutel, a patient-centered research and development workshop. She discusses her upbringing in the US and Korea, how she combined her love of art and science into user-centered design with social impact, and why she’s passionate about building health products for children. On Hella Asian, Hannah explains her obsession with sweet potatoes.
Katerina Jeng and Krystie Mak share the origin story of Slant’d — an independent media company that celebrates Asian American identity through personal storytelling. They share their upbringings, conceptions of being Asian American, and self-care practices. Katerina advises young Asian Americans to take the time to figure out what they’re truly passionate about, and Krystie emphasizes the importance of building a diverse inner circle of trusted advisers. On Hella Asian, Kat shares the exclamation she makes when she’s surprised and Krystie shares her buffet hacks.
Leanna Lin, a curator, buyer, designer, and businesswoman, tells us how she started Leanna Lin’s Wonderland, a family-run gift shop and art gallery based in Los Angeles. She discusses the kawaii aesthetic of her shop and how she selects independent artist and designers to feature. She also talks about her Asian American cultural ties through food and her relationship with her grandparents. On Hella Asian, Leanna shares her love of black sesame sweets.
COO and cofounder Katherine Jin tells us about the evolution of Kinnos, a biotech company that’s raising the standard of infectious disease decontamination. Katherine also discusses her experience in the startup space as an Asian American woman, entrepreneur, and inventor. On Hella Asian, Katherine shares her habit of saving food.
Founder and CEO Alisha Ramos discusses her journey building and and growing Girls’ Night In, a lifestyle brand and community for women who’d rather stay in tonight. Alisha shares how her perspective on her mixed race identity has evolved over time, and how she stays connected with different cultures. She also talks about the importance of strong friendships and prioritizing self-care and mental health. On Hella Asian, Alisha endorses the kimchi at the Whole Foods salad bar.
Coleen Baik, an independent product designer, illustrator, and advisor, tells us about striking out on her own. She shares her artistic processes, how she’s come to embrace uncertainty, and her experience visiting North Korea as a Korean American. On Hella Asian, she talks about her love for kimchi.
Founder and designer Theresa Lee takes us behind the scenes of her boutique fashion label, Future Glory, a socially conscious maker of handcrafted leather bags and accessories based in San Francisco. Theresa talks about her edgy side, growing up with a chip on her shoulder (and a Tiger Mom), as well as balancing creative risk and business pragmatism. She also discusses how success isn’t guaranteed, and how she plans to out-work everyone.
Comedian, writer, and festival organizer Jenny Yang talks about her journey as a recovering overachiever, how she got into comedy, and the way she thinks about her role as an artist and creator. She also discusses the importance of including Asian Americans in the mainstream cultural conversation by creating more touchstones and references through her stand-up, videos, community organizing, and more.
Author and illustrator Meera Lee Patel discusses her latest book My Friend Fear and how she approaches vulnerability and identity in her art. She shares her pragmatic journey from part-time to full-time artist and talks about the daily philosophies and questions that drive her creativity. On Hella Asian, she shares her suspicious tendencies.
For the last episode of season one, katie and Nicole reflect on the show so far, share their favorite (and most embarrassing) moments, and discuss their hopes for Sweet and Sour season two and beyond. On Hella Asian, katie brings slurping etiquette to the table.
Kelsey Cheng, a potter based in Chicago, talks with us about running a woman-owned business and her side hustle balance. She outlines how her craft and creativity has evolved, and how things like community and social media have influenced her process. She also discusses the ways in which her perspective on her mixed identity have changed over time. On Hella Asian, Kelsey gives us a crash course in bed feng shui.
Lulu Cheng, product manager at Pinterest, talks with us about Asian superstitions around numbers, gift giving, fan death, and more. She dives into how language defines culture — for example, Chinese words that have no real English equivalent. She shares her own progress in learning to speak Chinese with the help of Harry Potter, and we also discuss Lulu’s experience with mental health. On Hella Asian, Lulu shares her favorite part of a meal. Hint: it involves collagen.
Ankur Thakkar, head of content at Bumpers, talks to us about the internet and how it's helped him get to where he is now. We discussed his time at Vine, its role in democratizing video creation, and what Michelle Obama smells like. We also dive into the different waves of Asian American literature and how it's evolved over time. Ankur tells us about his first novel, which is about being brown in America, love and how the internet has changed how we communicate. On Hella Asian, Ankur shares three unique habits.
Geoffrey Lee, executive chef and partner at Jū-Ni, takes us behind the scenes of his Michelin star omakase sushi restaurant in San Francisco. We discuss his experience as a Chinese American sushi chef and what it was like to receive a Michelin star. On Hella Asian, Geoffrey reflects on his subversive and traditional Asian tendencies. And tune into IRL where Nicole walks us through a tour of the Museum of Chinese in America.
Amy Wibowo joins us this week to chat art, science and everything in between. As founder and CEO of BubbleSort Zines, a monthly zine series illustrating computer science principles, she shares her work to decolonize STEM education and the importance of connecting science with the humanities. She talks about trying to find a home in the US and Indonesia, eventually creating her own. Amy discusses femininity, her approach to social media, and does a deep dive on the ultimate feminist snack: indomie. On Hella Asian, Amy reveals her relationship with her house slippers.
Anil Dash, CEO of FogCreek Software, entrepreneur, activist and writer, joins us on the show to discuss his Indian American identity and how he’s working to make the industry more humane and ethical. Anil talks about raising his son and the role of technology in his family across generations. He dives into how progress happens and the difference between people doing good versus simply wanting to be seen as good. Anil also pops by our Hella Asian segment and prepare yourselves: it’s a juicy one. We also debut a new game segment this week: Appropriation or Appreciation? katie has a personal kimono conundrum.
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