We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Wang and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born in Dallas, Texas, to first generation Chinese American parents who were raised in Taiwan. The early formative years of my upbringing took place mainly in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles, where I lived with my immediate family from age 5-12. Following that period, my parents’ work took us to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where I spent my adolescent years in an international community. Being raised in a culturally layered environment from the moment I was born and experiencing life overseas instilled in me a deep appreciation for a sense of home and connection with others, which I found to be in its truest expression, in cooking and sharing food. My mother, Peggy, was a huge influence. I spent most of my childhood in her kitchen, where I witnessed her approach to resourcefully nurturing and raising a family through her menu of mostly traditional Chinese cooking and sometimes experimental dishes. There was always something delicious to share, and often there would be guests at the table.
What should our readers know about your business?
Teaching through my workshop platform, Pickle Pickle Co. and selling hand crafted desserts through my micro-bakery Pique-Nique L.A. are truly personal extensions of care that I hope will reach, inspire and nourish those who are ready to receive. Growing two food businesses in tandem with each other has given me a chance to develop a little ecosystem to do what I love and share it with others. What motivates me to make lesson plans inspired by fermentation and Chinese cooking techniques is the same thing that motivates me to create colorful desserts that celebrate California’s produce palette. I am convinced that extending care to our bodies through food so we can be our best productive selves is the greatest gift and it is too good to not be shared. The story behind that motivating factor is based on my personal health journey and my relationship to food, and how those two are intertwined. I reached a crossroad when I was 5 years into a career in restaurant pastry kitchens, which started in LA at Forage and ended in SF at State Bird Provisions.
I developed a serious prediabetic health issue right before I turned 30 and realized I couldn’t continue working in restaurants. I wasn’t treating my body right and I was finally being confronted with symptoms of prediabetes after committing my blood sugar to a roller coaster ride nearly every day for 2 years. I was making beautiful food as a part of a team of talented chefs but there was a disconnect there that I wouldn’t have identified if my body didn’t scream at me to stop. I was forced to reconsider life outside of a restaurant kitchen. It took some exploring and more than a handful of conversations with friends who were multi-hyphenate community organizers and food professionals to realize I could find new meaning in my work, while still working in the food industry, and apart from restaurant kitchens. Having a supportive community is truly what kept me going and really engaged in sharing my story and experience through my work.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
L.A.’s Chinatown is always at the top of my list! We would spend time at the shops in Far East Plaza and get food at Lasita, Pearl River Deli, Qin West, and get a coffee at Endorffeine. We would check out the cookbooks and wares at Now Serving (shop online only, for pick up). We might take our food to the LA State Historic Park for a picnic. On the way there we’ll stop by the stationery shop Paper Please for a browse, and get an afternoon pick me up at Thank You Coffee. We’ll be sure to spend some time at Central Plaza and browse the neatly curated book collection at Tomorrow Today, and check out the Chinese antique shops like Phoenix Imports, for rare finds. We’ll do a gallery hop in the neighborhood and visit The Fulcrum Press, South Willard, Tierra Del Sol, and Leiminspace. For tea we’ll visit Steep at Mandarin Plaza. If we wanted to cook in later we would get some ingredients from KFT Grocery on North Spring Street, and maybe get some Thai ingredients or meals to go from Lax-c. At some point we would order the house made tofu special at Jade Wok. Chinatown would keep us busy for more than a day. For some time in nature I would take my bestie to Elysian Park and get some nice views up in the hilly edges of the park.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Asian Pacific Islander Forward Movement Across Our Kitchen Tables (Jocelyn Ramirez, Valeria Velazquez, Claudia Serrato) My mother, Peggy Pei-Hung Lin Wang
Instagram: @picklepickle.co @piquenique_la
Julia Sherman Daniel Nguyen Jennelle Fong Jonathan Chu