30 Questions with Four Petite Foodies
Today, we’re interviewing the Four Petite Foodies — Jen Chua, Claire Wu, Cindy Ho and Hsiang-Yu Wu. Tune in to see how the pandemic gave rise to their fabulous website and how they’re working together despite all odds!
1. What according to you is a foodie?
Jen: Someone who’s obsessed with food!
Claire: Someone who appreciates good food.
Cindy: Someone who can eat 40 dumplings in one sitting! 😂
Hsiang-Yu: Someone who finds happiness in food.
2. Do you enjoy being one?
Jen: Absolutely! The best part about being a foodie is that I’m the first person for anyone who needs food recommendations.
Claire: Definitely! I love to dive deep and understand the food culture and the methods and ingredients used by people.
Cindy: Yes, I believe food binds us all together and I love sharing my experiences and knowledge with others.
Hsiang-Yu: Yes, I believe food is everything we are.
3. How did your blog Four Petite Foodies start?
Claire: While I already have a food account, I wanted to start something that’s more than just telling others what I ate that day. I shared my idea to Hsiang Yu and we both decided to bring in our two other foodie friends, Jen and Cindy, to begin this journey. We set up a call during quarantine and discussed how to start this, and spent some time planning and setting up the social media accounts together. Since then, we set up a meeting every week for content planning.
4. What do you wish to achieve with your food blog?
Jen: I want to share my love for food with other people who feel passionate about different food cultures.
Claire: I want to help people understand the difference between the different Asian food cultures and reveal the stories behind the dishes.
Cindy: I only wish to achieve one simple thing: bringing happiness by embracing our food experiences with everyone. It could be eating in your favourite restaurant or cooking at home using a few basic ingredients.
Hsiang-Yu: I want more and more people to try Asian cuisine. It’s also why I’m happy to educate people about history and culture, give them food recommendations and tell them easy recipes.
5. What’s your favourite meal of the day?
Jen: It’s a close call between lunch and dinner, but I slightly lean more towards dinner just because during lunch there are times when you or your friends and family are busy with school or work. Almost everyone is free during dinners and it is the company that you eat with that makes those meals even more special.
Claire: I’m usually more of an I-eat-whenever-there’s-something-I-want-to-eat kind of a person, but if I did have to choose it would be brunch. It’s a more relaxing way to start the day and it’s usually a time when I’d have a bigger appetite as opposed to early mornings.
Cindy: It’s hard to pick between breakfast and dinner but I have to choose, I would say dinner during weekday and breakfast during weekends. I enjoyed the time and accompany that I could have over dinner during the weekday. Breakfast is also the first meal of the day where I think I can take the time to prep, wake myself up, enjoy a little company with friends and family.
Hsiang-Yu: BRUNCH! I’m not a morning person so I usually have brunch/lunch as my first meal of the day. I love going to cute brunch restaurants with friends on weekends.
6. If there was only one thing you could eat for the rest of your life, it would be?
Jen: Probably sticky rice? There are savoury and sweet sticky rice options, especially in Vietnam, so that way I can get to have a main and some dessert.
Claire: I think I would pick dumplings — it has both proteins and vegetables in it, it’s actually a very well-balanced food. I could even switch up the flavours if I ever got sick of one.
Cindy: I would pick a buffet if I could. But if I could only choose one dish, I would say it would be Mian-Geng, Taiwanese noodles with thickened broth and pork.
Hsiang-Yu: I know it sounds crazy but I would say veggies. There are many different kinds of vegetables and you can cook them in various ways. Veggies also provide key vitamins, minerals, and fiber so I don’t need to worry about my health.
7. A favourite snack that’s always in your bag?
Jen: This is a hard one, I go through phases where either I’m constantly snacking or I don’t snack at all. When I do snack, I tend to go for savoury snacks like sour cream & onion Pringles, or hot Cheetos, but snacks are usually not carried in my bag.
Claire: I don’t usually carry snacks in my bag, but if I really were to carry something it’ll be easily carried fruits like blueberries or mandarin oranges.
Cindy: Mint, lemon drops or dry plums.
Hsiang-Yu: Trail mix and gummy candies.
8. Three ingredients you love adding in your recipes?
Jen: Fish sauce, garlic, and spice (red pepper flakes or chilli powder)!!
Claire: scallions, soy sauce, and soup stock powder
Cindy: Soy sauce, rice wine, and garlic.
Hsiang-Yu: Salt, soy sauce and garlic. (Very Asian.)
9. Three ingredients you avoid/hate adding to your recipes?
Jen: …most veggies. It’s taken me a while to get to where I am now for myself to add spinach or cabbage to the meals that I cook but for the most part, I’m definitely not a veggie person which is something that a lot of my friends and family tease me about.
Claire: sprouts and cilantro — I don’t particularly love cilantro, however, I would still use and eat it when it’s necessary for the dish.
Cindy: Okra, cinnamon, and broccoli.
Hsiang-Yu: Anything that makes the dish spicy because I can’t eat spicy food.
10. What’s your favourite restaurant in the whole world and why?
Jen: This is the hardest question. There’s no way I can come to a decision, but one of my favourite restaurants in Vietnam has to be Pizza 4P’s which serves Japanese and Italian fusion cuisine. Their ingredients are freshly grown and transported from their organic farm in Dalat and I can seriously never get sick of their food. There was one week where I went there 3 times.
Claire: It’s almost impossible to pick a favourite restaurant but I do know where to go if you narrow it down to cuisines/occasions 😉
Cindy: It is hard to pick only one favourite. If I had to pick one, I would pick the noodle shop in my hometown.
Hsiang-Yu: It’s impossible to pick a favourite restaurant in the whole world. I’d say home-cooked food is my favourite restaurant.
11. What’s your favourite regional cuisine?
Jen: My favourite regional cuisine of Vietnam has to be Central Vietnamese food. Their food definitely has the strongest of flavours. Most of their food has a bit of a kick to it which I’m always a fan of, and their dishes are definitely more savoury than other regions. My personal favourites are Bun Bo Hue, Banh Nam, Banh Beo.
Claire: I know it almost sounds impossible, but I can’t actually pick a favourite. I crave different things every day, heck, I crave different things every meal. I don’t have just one go-to cuisine because I can eat anything as long as that’s something I want at the moment, whether that’s Taiwanese, Japanese, Thai or Italian.
Cindy: My favourite is southern Taiwanese cuisine.
Hsiang-Yu: Japanese cuisine for me (I love Japanese food!)
12. According to you, which cuisines from across the globe are the healthiest?
Jen: Definitely Vietnamese. The food contains a lot of fresh vegetables and doesn’t use so much oil either. There are also vegetarian options almost everywhere in Vietnam and after eating the food I don’t feel heavy either.
Claire: I think that East Asian cuisines generally are healthier, except they’re healthy in different degrees. For instance, although Japanese cuisine uses less seasoning, they tend to have fewer vegetables. At the same time, while Taiwanese tend to keep the meal balanced, many of the dishes may be cooked with more oil and seasonings.
Cindy: I think East Asian and especially Japanese cuisine since they use light salt and seasoning.
Hsiang-Yu: I would say Kaiseki, a traditional Japanese cuisine, is the healthiest cuisine to me. It’s a simple meal that uses only fresh seasonal ingredients to balance the taste, texture, appearance, and colours of food.
13. What’s one food sin you’d never commit?
Jen: For the most part I find it hard to mix savory foods with sweet food. Like bacon with maple syrup, or even chicken and waffles I have a hard time wrapping that around my head. I know that a lot of people like it but I can’t bring myself to.
Claire: I can’t think of one right on the spot because I’m more likely to commit some food sins like not adding sugar when I drink boba or not adding dressing if I eat salad.
Cindy: Steak cooked well-done is something that I would never commit.
Hsiang-Yu: Adding ice in milk and putting ketchup on steak!
14. Your favourite dessert?
Jen: hands down, crepe! In every place that I’ve visited or visited, I have to have at least one crepe or I won’t be satisfied. There was even a time when I wanted to enter a crepe eating challenge. I’m pretty sure I would have made it if I hadn’t eaten two giant crepes before I saw the sign.
Claire: My favourite dessert would be douhua/tofu pudding, it’s a dessert I’ve had since I was little. It could be served cold or hot, and you could choose any toppings you like.
Cindy: I like cake/pastry without any frosting, cream, etc. Anything similar to sponge cake where there’s no fillings or frostings are my favourite.
Hsiang-Yu: Canelé for sure!
15. You can always be found drinking?
Jen: I’m a big tea person! Green tea, lotus tea, and Pu-erh, oolong tea, you name it! I love all teas. The only issue is that I do have a low caffeine tolerance, so I try to stay away from black and earl grey tea after 1-2 PM…
Claire: Tea and/or coffee, no question. I could never get enough of them, and I absolutely love shopping for it too. I have a collection of different types of teas and flavours of espresso in my cabinet so I can switch it around as I please!
Cindy: Milk and unsweetened green tea.
Hsiang-Yu: Another big tea person here! I love green tea, oolong tea, flowering tea and matcha (you can’t forget matcha when you talk about tea.) I enjoy having them without sugar and sometimes with milk (when you add boba, it’s boba milk tea!)
16. How would you describe Food Petite Foodies to new readers?
Claire: Our website is a one-stop destination to our favourite prepared meals that range from takeout/delivery and home-cooked meals and outdoor dining.
17. What would you be doing if you weren’t a food blogger today?
Jen: I’ll be attending grad school next January for Marketing. Through the program, I’ll be able to take away more skills and knowledge which will help with improving our reach and for me to better understand our audience and convert those actions to results.
Claire: Even if I don’t call myself a food blogger, I would still, to some degree, be posting food content on my personal Instagram. I’ve known that I wanted to work in this field for a while now, and I have continued to search for jobs that allow me to write and create content about food and restaurant. Simply put, if I weren’t a food blogger, I would still be a content creator.
Cindy: I would still be blogging at a certain scale (if not publicly, I would still have a place where I keep notes of my food passion somewhere privately. It’s hard to think about what I would be doing otherwise since regardless of the blogging scale, I would always have food blogging at a different scale engraved in my life.
Hsiang-Yu: I’m still searching for the answer to this question in my life as well. (And hopefully, I’ll get an answer soon!)
18. What’s the best and worst thing about being a food blogger?
Jen: I think the best part is that I’m able to learn about all these amazing restaurants and enjoy their food, and the worst part is just that the competition is definitely tough! There are so many food bloggers out there and it’s hard to stand out.
Claire: As much as I want to pick eating all the great foods, I think the best part is getting to know the business owners and the stories behind the dishes. The worst part is I sometimes feel I have the need to eat out more to get more content because I usually make simple meals at home.
Cindy: The best thing is that I am always thinking about food. The worst thing is that even though I am constantly thinking about food, I can only eat so much per day.
Hsiang-Yu: Eating delicious food and sharing things I love makes me happy. The downside is I gain weight easily lol.
19. In future, where do you think Four Petite Foodies will take you?
Jen: I’m quite happy with where we are at with Food Petite Foodies at the moment. I think we’ve done a great job at making digestible content that makes our audiences understand Asian food culture better. In the future, we hope for up–and–coming Asian restaurants and businesses to reach out to us so that we could both work together and promote each other!
Claire: I’ve always wanted to start a somewhat educational/informational media that introduces my culture and my experience as a third-culture kid, and I think food is a perfect topic to start with when it comes to that. I believe that it’s important for us to know that we’re doing this for a purpose, not just sharing what we ate throughout the day. I don’t know where it will take us, but I hope that it really does show the speciality/characteristics of all these different Asian food cultures.
Cindy: I think Food Petite Foodies essentially will be able to connect people that share the same passion (food) together. As long as we could create a community (no matter how big or small) that shares the same passion in food and culture, this will be the main purpose/goal of the blog.
Hsiang-Yu: My ideal situation is that we keep sharing Asian food/culture to more people and potentially we can cooperate with restaurants or chefs to promote the food and values they believe in.
20. What inspires you to cook?
Jen: I like the freedom of being able to cook what I like! If I’m craving a dish and restaurants either don’t have the dish, or they’re overcharging for it, I can always make it myself. I also like knowing what is put in my food, because sometimes restaurants can make it saltier or sweeter than I like my meals to be.
Claire: My mom is what inspired me to cook in the first place; I got the recipes of the first few dishes from her. My mom is the greatest cook I know, and I definitely didn’t learn to appreciate her cooking when I was in Taiwan. Not being able to eat the food from home made me realize how much I’m missing out. After my successful recreation of my mom’s sesame oil chicken, it prompted me to cook more.
Cindy: Being away from home definitely inspires me to cook. Through cooking, it reminds me of home.
Hsiang-Yu: Craving for delicious food motivates me to cook. I enjoy the cooking process and feel satisfied when people like my food.
21. Three chefs/food bloggers you would love to collaborate with?
Jen: nomnomboston, its.bitesize, f and b recipes (which we’re working with right now!)
Claire: I would definitely want to work with Christine Yi (@cy_eats), David Chang and Rie McClenny, the food video producer of Buzzfeed Tasty!
Hsiang-Yu: I don’t really have a specific person that I want to collaborate with because there are too many talented chefs and food bloggers out there. I’m open to working with everyone who’s passionate about food and cooking.
22. When you’re not cooking you can be found doing?
Jen: Trying out new restaurants with family and friends!
Claire: Taking pictures of food or making food for friends
Cindy: That’s for sure EATING!
Hsiang-Yu: Looking for new recipes and eating for sure! I also like to read and swim.
23. How do you work?
All four of us love cooking, and so we all contribute with our individual recipes. Whoever’s the recipe it is will be responsible for writing a short article and recipe on the dish itself. Jen manages the social media piece, while Claire focuses on photo editing and video production. Cindy started the Flavor Friday series, which is shared on a bi-weekly basis, while Hsiang-Yu is working on broadening our outreach to Taiwanese audiences.
24. One belief you’d like people to change about Asian food?
Not all Asian foods are the same – there’s Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian, Filipino… etc. Each of the cuisines has its own specialities and history behind it, and we hope through our posts we’re able to convey that.
25. Tell us about your favourite food photo editing app that you regularly use.
Claire: For different content, I use different photo editing apps. For Four Petite Foodies’ photos, I use Lightroom. It’s available on phone too so it makes it very easy for me if I want to edit something on the spot and post it. iPhone’s camera and its editing features are also pretty good.
26. Do you have any tips on for someone starting a food blog?
Just start posting! You don’t need to have a whole plan to start your blog. Just start writing and post about topics you’re passionate about. You will find your own way of doing it and the first step is always the hardest! Most people in the foodie world are also super friendly and open to collaborate so it would be a great way to get your blog started up!
27. One dish you’d want everyone on the planet to try?
Jen: This is a hard one…I don’t know if there’s one dish that everyone on the planet has to try but I really wish the extent of Viet food, especially abroad, was beyond pho and banh mi. Those are both amazing dishes but there are just so many unique Vietnamese dishes out there that it’s seriously a shame people don’t know more about.
Claire: Back in school I mostly hung out with people who somewhat knew about the Asian food culture, this kind of question never really popped in my head. It was until after I graduated and met a whole other group of people who aren’t familiar with that realm that I realized how much I want to show them. If I must pick something it would definitely be Taiwanese dishes, the ones that aren’t as well known.
Cindy: Hot Pot.
Hsiang-Yu: Any kind of dishes that contain rice. I would like to introduce rice to everyone on the planet!
28. One celebrity you’d like to invite for dinner?
Jen: Chris Evans…just because I have a huge crush on him.
Claire: Any cast member from Schitt’s Creek because I’ve been binge-watching the show…😜
Cindy: Rowan Atkinson
Hsiang-Yu: Haruki Murakami – he’s not a celebrity but he’s one of my favourite authors. It’ll be a dream come true moment if I could have dinner with him.
29. How has the pandemic affected Four Petite Foodies?
Claire: We came up with the idea during the quarantine. Since we only started a few months ago, I wouldn’t say it affected us terribly, it actually helped us by allowing us to think and plan things before setting the account up. However, it definitely made it harder for us to get together in one city and create content.
30. Your favourite recipe?
The Asian population together comprise over half of the world’s population, there’s bound to be recipes for the same dish. There’s even a different rendition of recipes for one single dish among us four. The recipes we share are the version that represents each of us.
Red Braised Beef Noodle Soup 紅燒牛肉麵 (Modified Version)
- 1 Chinese Spice Braising Packet (contains cinnamon, star anise, bay leaves cardamom, licorice, basil leaf and black pepper)
- ½ lb Ribeye with the bone (brisket, shank or sirloin also works)
- ¼ Onion (chopped)
- 2 cloves of Garlic (minced)
- 1-2 Leek or scallion stalks (chopped)
- 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
- 3 tsp Dashi (Soup Stock) Powder
- ~1 cup of Whisky (150mL)
- 3 tsp Korean Chili Powder
- 1 tsp Red Pepper (chopped)
- 1 Canned Crushed Tomatoes with Basil
- Shio Koji (Japanese marinade made with fermented rice malt and salt)
- Brown sugar
- vegetables to eat with beef noodle soup (recommendations: bok choy and spinach)
- (Optional) Marinade the meat with shiokoji a day before, which would make the meat juicy and tender.
- Fill a medium pot ¾ of the way up with the Chinese braising spice packet; cover and heat to boiling on high. Set aside for later use.
- Blanch* the meat and set aside. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water. (Optional) If you used ribeye with bone, keep the bone and blanch with the meat to make bone broth.
- Sauté the minced garlic, onions and leek (or scallion) until fragrant.
- Toss the red pepper, Korean chilli powder, dashi powder, and soy sauce into the pot and stir-fry with the vegetables.
- Add 3 tbsp of tomato sauce (crushed tomato with basil can) and keep stir-frying it (add more if you want a stronger tomato taste).
- Pour the soup you cooked with the Chinese braising spice packet and the beef broth into the pot and add a cup of whisky then let it boil. Note: you can taste it and add more brown sugar if you feel your soup is too salty/pungent.
- Add the beef into the pot. Turn the heat on low and let it simmer for at least 20 minutes or until the alcohol taste cooks out.
- While waiting, cook the noodles and vegetables (optional) you want to add on the side.
- Once your noodles and vegetables are ready, combine it in a bowl with the soup and enjoy!
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Shristi likes to write about Food, Finance and everything in between.