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5 Asian American & Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Disrupting the Food & Beverage Scene

Celebrate Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month this May by learning about five food and beverage innovators who are elevating AAPI cultures and reshaping American cuisine.

Celebrating 5 Food Innovators for AAPI Heritage Month

Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebrates the many contributions Asian American and Pacific Islanders have made to this country, including their culinary contributions. Food is an integral part of family and community tradition and deeply tied to cultural identity. Here we celebrate five contemporary AAPI food innovators who are both sharing and redefining their cultures with us:

1. David Chang – Momofuku and Ugly Delicious

Korean-American chef David Chang rose to fame with his NYC restaurant Momofuku Noodle Bar—now one of many restaurants under Momofuku Group which also includes Milk Bar and Michelin-starred Momofuku Ko. Chang has gained global recognition in the culinary world for his creative twists on traditional dishes (like pork buns), as well as new inventions (such as cereal milk ice cream and crack pie). Chang further expanded his culinary influence by creating, hosting, and producing Ugly Delicious, a Netflix series exploring food and culture. 

2. Kevin Lee and Kevin Chanthasiriphan – Immi

Immi, a company that makes protein-packed ramen noodles, is the brainchild of Kevin Lee and Kevin Chanthasiriphan. Lee (originally from Taiwan) and Chanthasiriphan (from Thailand) met at a tech company in San Francisco where they worked and soon learned they shared a passion for noodles. Seeing an opportunity to take instant ramen to the next level with natural ingredients and a healthy nutrition profile, Immi was born. The brand is truly Asian-American, offering a beloved Asian dish that’s also clean label, keto-friendly, and delivers 31 grams of protein per serving.

man making pasta

3. Jing Gao – Fly by Jing

After years of going by the name “Jenny,” chef and entrepreneur Jing Gao embraced a return to her name and heritage with her foray into specialty foods business Fly by Jing. For Fly by Jing, Gao creates and sells Chengdu-inspired condiments, including her Sichuan Chili Crisp sauce and Zhong sauce. Gao’s extremely versatile sauces are at once sweet, savory, spicy, and tangy, which allows them to work on anything from meats to ice cream. Fans can follow her on her blog Jing Theory, where she documents her creative process.

4. Eddie Flores, Jr. – L&L Hawaiian BBQ

Filipino-Chinese entrepreneur and immigrant Eddie Flores, Jr. dreamed he could bring authentic Hawaiian cuisine to the mainland. Watching his parents struggle as poor immigrants after they moved from Hong Kong to Hawaii, he vowed to work hard for a better life. His restaurant L&L Hawaiian BBQ is now the top Asian fast-food franchise in the country, with over 200 locations and nearly $100 million in sales. As a champion for immigrants, Flores, Jr. is also known for the 50,000-square-foot community center he built to teach entrepreneurship skills to Filipino immigrants.

chicken and pineapple dish

5. Joanna Linton – Rae’s Roots

Corporate career woman Joanna Linton changed course after severe postpartum depression threw her off track. Turning to her mother’s expertise in traditional Chinese herbs for self-care, it occurred to her she could help other new moms with these healing brews. Linton’s company Rae’s Roots sells herbal wellness teas that offer to promote milk flow, soothe the belly, and calm the mind. Through social media, she advocates for new moms to care for themselves first so they can then care for others.

Cheers to Food Innovation

Here at Glanbia Nutritionals, we’re excited to honor the AAPI entrepreneurs who are bringing new dishes, products, and flavors to America’s food scene and putting new twists on old classics to make them relevant to today’s needs. For innovative, healthy, and delicious ingredients that meet your consumers’ needs in beverages, snacks, baking, and more, contact Glanbia.

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