Cooking Up Positive Change with Chef Jessie YuChen

Jessie YuChen is a Taiwanese chef, photographer, and food stylist based in NYC. She co-founded This Queer Kitchen, a platform that brings the queer community and its allies together through food-related content and events. Jessie seeks to utilize the power of food and image for creating positive change. Her experience as a queer Taiwanese-American in food media and restaurant kitchens shapes her practice of storytelling that blends food, photography, and visual arts.

We talked to Jessie about her inspirations, mission, and her experience as a queer Asian American chef.

What are your greatest cooking inspirations?

My inspirations come from the culture I grew up with, my diverse experiences with food, and the time spent with my loved ones.

How do you use food and image to create positive change?
Food is universal, it is something that can connect us all. It’s natural that the presence of food brings people together, whether it is just for filling our bellies, for pleasure, or for starting a conversation. Food is a medium that has the potential to reach everyone, and I hope to use the power of food and visual arts to create positive changes, such as bringing visibility to minority groups and cultures, telling stories, and raising awareness of equity, using it as tools to start important conversations.
Have you faced any challenges as a queer Asian American female chef?
Although the food and food media industry can be toxic for minorities and has a lot to improve, most experiences I've had in the food and food media industry in New York have been positive. In terms of me being a queer Asian American female chef, I don't often feel people treating me differently because of my identity. However, being an immigrant in America with vulnerable status brings many challenges, and even makes it easy for people to take advantage sometimes.
Any advice for aspiring Asian American chefs?
What makes you special is your experience. Define your own authenticity.

Follow Jessie on instagram @thelescook /

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