Most Sundays at the market, you can find Andy Chiang and his partner, Enas, serving beautifully presented raw vegan “cheesecakes”.
Where did you grow up?
Right here in Auckland! My parents immigrated from Taiwan when I was two years old and I have been here ever since.
How did you end up starting a food business?
Although I've always had an interest in food and cooking, it wasn't until I became plant-based that I really started dabbling in the culinary arts. Veganism is a cause that makes a lot of sense to me. I think you really have to chase those opportunities that combine passion and purpose.
Did you go to culinary school?
I actually majored in Economics when I went to University. The last time I got any formal food training was during Intermediate in Food Tech.
How did you learn?
Youtube University! Well I think I've watched enough videos to earn a degree at least. Having friends that are willing to eat whatever you make, and happy to tell you every reason it sucks, helps too.
What about cooking shows?
I've never watched a cooking show, not the ones where they compete against each other. Honestly, the idea that food can have a competitive side gives me anxiety!
Were nutritional considerations part of your motivation?
Not initially, but if you can make food that is both tasty and good for you, why not?
How do you develop your recipes?
First we think what the main flavours should be, then what the texture should be like, and then try figure out how much fruit, nuts, and good stuff we can stuff in it. People are often surprised to know that the biggest challenge is getting the texture right. Also, we try to make our products as accessible as possible, so do away with common allergens. People are often happy to find our products also gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and egg-free.
Has there been much to learn starting a food business?
Heaps! There are lots of regulations in the food industry, and rightfully so. Designing a website and setting up social media were interesting challenges. There’s a lot to running a profitable business. Being proficient in Excel has probably been the most useful skill I've learnt, especially for record-keeping.
Where did your Fat Carrot brand name come from?
We were tossing possible names around and it just stuck. Soon after a friend drafted a prototype logo and we knew that was it event though, I sometimes feel a bit silly saying the brand name out loud. We also wanted a disarming name that juxtaposed the austerity that is often associated with being vegan.
Have you had any surprising experiences at the market?
We have noticed that customers direct questions about the products to my partner Enas. They naturally assume that she is the baker - not me, the asian male. It always makes us laugh.
And do you get time for any hobbies?
I'm a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to hobbies. I love learning new things. Running a business and finding time for other stuff is a balance I have yet to strike - I'm constantly working on it though.
As published in Ponsonby News : December 2020