Archive for the 'Worlds Collide' Category

Face Down Your Fears


February 20th, 2014

cult
Well, it finally happened. The one thing I feared most…I lost my health insurance. The last several years has been filled with trials and tribulations. Anyone with health issues can tell you…it’s not for the faint of heart. There are many frustrations…financial hardships, dysfunctional bureaucracy, doctors who don’t understand you, unsympathetic billing departments, a situation that really doesn’t add up in a financial sense. For anyone. A person can get lost in the morass. In fact, I had been on a bit of a hiatus from the doctor. Partly because it didn’t make FINANCIAL SENSE. And partly because it didn’t make EMOTIONAL SENSE. I intended to go back at some point. Once I got my life more stable. Once I started making money again. Once I was emotionally available enough to tolerate the dysfunction again. I mean through all of this, one mantra I’ve hung on to has been, ‘No matter what happens, don’t lose your insurance.’

But something happened along the way. It didn’t help much that my premiums went up. A lot. I think this is happening for a lot of people. But at some point you have to face the facts. The facts are that I am a struggling new business owner that just survived two pretty devastating health setbacks. I really don’t have any money. I mean, who does? But I really don’t. I can’t afford these crazy premiums. For the last several years, I’ve been going way into debt to pay premiums that I can’t afford. And to be honest, I’m not even really sure why. Because the reality is that my insurance doesn’t really cover anything anyway.

I’m not really sure what the answer to this quandary is. I’m not even sure if there is one. I think a lot of people are wrestling with this issue these days. But they say that once the one thing you fear most happens, you have nothing to fear. So I like to think that this is a positive development. If I’ve learned anything from the last few years, it’s that sometimes what looks like the end is really just a new beginning. You have to break down what’s not working for you to make room for what is. Stay positive. Keep pushing. Things will look different on the other side. So I am keeping the faith…

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Punk Rawk Labs, Inc.


July 19th, 2012

new shop
Well, in case you haven’t gotten the memo, Punk Rawk Labs is undergoing some big changes at the moment. Things just kind of BLEW UP RATHER SUDDENLY after our OFFICIAL LAUNCH. I’m in awe of the craziness that can ensue in this beautiful world if you remain open to change. I’m talkin’ straight out of the movies! I mean, a few months ago, I was literally destitute. My health problems had wiped out everything. I literally had no money, and I had lost my job due to my injuries. A lot of people had given up on me. Even members of my own family. But I’m happy to say that times have changed…
My cheeses started selling like crazy. All over the country. There were so many orders that it was way way beyond what my limited capacity body could handle. It was clear that something needed to change and fast. An unsettling moment to be sure. But a few good friends encouraged me to stick it out, hold on tight, and ride the wave. And now, just a few months later, I’m happy to announce that some very exciting developments have taken place!

julie
Punk Rawk Labs has now become Punk Rawk Labs, Inc. In order to meet the demand, it became necessary to expand production of our product line. Enter, my new partner, Julie. Here she is in front of our new shop. Julie is the perfect person to help take PRL to the next level. She’s an entrepreneur. In fact, she’s the former owner of HYMIE’S VINTAGE RECORD STORE on Lake St. here in Minneapolis (which incidentally was dubbed one of the 30 BEST RECORD STORES IN THE US by Rolling Stone magazine). Currently, she works in the food business.

seward
In fact, she just yesterday gave her notice at the SEWARD COOP where you might remember that I taught a CLASS WHEN I FIRST RETURNED FROM CULINARY SCHOOL. Julie actually helped me with that class as it was just a few months after my ACCIDENT, and I was still on crutches. In fact, I was actually on my way to a BBQ at Julie’s house with a bin full of kale chips when I got in the accident. Seems like the universe was trying to tell me something. But the universe didn’t stop there! At the beginning of this process, you could say I was pretty riddled with anxiety. I had to raise a lot of money to make this happen. And at that point, I really didn’t have any idea how I was going to do that. My friend Janice, who incidentally is a very talented healer (and creator of the FOUNDATIONS HEALING SYSTEM), told me to start taking a walk every day. That there was some place nearby where I would find the answers. And I would know it when I found it.

hanjin
Well, before long, I found myself walking every day to the train tracks near my house. There’s a big switchyard nearby. It’s kind of famous among those who like to jump trains. But I kept going to that spot. I think because it felt like I was connecting to something larger than myself. I was fascinated by the idea that there was a time when the trains were bringing all the information from the outside world. One thing I kept noticing there were these ‘Hanjin’ cars. And they really stuck out to me. As when I worked in Seattle, I worked at a seafood restaurant right on the pier of the Puget Sound. And these huge boats with these ‘Hanjin’ cars were always floating by.

penta

Well, interestingly, there was another party that was interested in helping with PRL’s expansion. A tech company from Korea called Penta Systems Technology based in Seoul. I got connected with them through a friend from childhood. We played violin in the orchestra together. Went to junior high, high school, and college together. And in fact, she lived across the street from me in college. And now, she is the Vice President of Penta. Small world, right? It gets smaller. A few weeks ago, I went to ship a package of kale chips to her to try. And she said, why don’t you ship them to me at work? I said, ‘Sounds good. What’s the address?’ It turns out that her office is located in the Hanjin Shipping Building in Seoul. Can you believe that?! The universe had spoken again! From the other side of the globe!

new windows
I am very happy to announce that Punk Rawk Labs has formed what might be described as a multinational corporation. And I am now the CEO of that corporation! Talk about a dramatic turnaround! I have to say, I can hardly believe it myself. It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I am so very honored to have joined forces with Julie and Penta Systems Technology to form a new improved Punk Rawk Labs!

wet tile
Our new shop is still under construction. But the buildout is coming along. In fact, it might be done as early as this week.

tile
The tile has been laid. Some beautiful grey quarry tile in accordance with state and local codes for commercial kitchens.

rubic
The walls have been painted. Well, at least some of them anyway. We still have a few to go.

amber
We’ve even had at least one celebrity visit so far! Here I am with AMBER SHEA CRAWLEY (fellow MATTHEW KENNEY ACADEMY alum) and author of best selling vegan uncookbook, PRACTICALLY RAW.

practicallyI am feeling so happy about the next phase of our development. It really feels like the right people in the right place at the right time! There are so many amazing coincidences bringing this thing together at the moment that I am just soaking up every moment. Karma really does happen! And it is so freaking beautiful, that it might just burn my eyes. I am so looking forward to having some free time so I can try out some of Amber’s recipes! Free time!  It seems like such a far away concept.  :)  But it is coming soon to a theatre near me!  I’ll keep you posted on what develops…

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I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide


May 9th, 2012

live live
Woah, Nelly! Things are blowing up these days. And it’s not just me. My boyfriend, Tom, sent me back this picture from LIVE LIVE AND ORGANIC. He was in town twice a couple weeks ago. Once to do sound for TBT at Webster Hall. And once for their surprise appearance on LETTERMAN! They did so awesome! So anyway, Tom checked on my stores while he was there. Things are going really well at Live Live and at One Lucky Duck! Cheeses have been selling so well at the One Lucky Duck Chelsea Market location that they are going to start stocking them at Gramercy Park too! And that’s not all!

rainbow
In my last post, I wrote about MY FIRST ORDER FOR RAINBOW GROCERY in San Francisco. This is a picture that was posted by ECOVEGANGAL (who just unveiled her new, improved site today!). OMG…Did those go over well! They got a nod in the SF WEEKLY and in VEGANSAURUS! Apparently, renowned author and cheese expert (not vegan!), GORDON EDGAR, was singing their praises. And since he’s not exactly vegan, people perked up!

sold out
I mean really perked up! They sold out in a few days. This picture was sent to me by my friend Jonathan. Crazy, right?

waiting
It gets crazier! I sent them another order last week. And apparently, 80% of that order (50% larger than the first order) was pre-sold via a waiting list! And the rest of it sold out in a couple days. So now they’re still on a waiting list! (Thanks to Gordon for snapping this pic for me. He likes to be called Gordon Zola…pretty funny for a cheese guy).

vegan essentials
The same thing has been happening over at VEGAN ESSENTIALS. They can’t keep stuff in stock either. And I’ve been adding new stores! Next order is going out to FOOD FIGHT! in Portland!

Needless to say, things are a little crazy! I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed. And I’m plotting my next moves….

new shop
…which speaking of, did I mention that we got our own shop?!! I just got the keys two days ago. Definitely overwhelmed!! But check out the video I made for PRL TV! It’s a TOUR of our new space! Crazy, huh?

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New Punk Rawkers


March 9th, 2012

cheeses
Well, things have been blowing up out here in the northland. I have been completely overwhelmed with cheese orders. It’s kind of mind blowing, really. Orders from all over the country. Alaska even. It is way more than I ever could have dreamed. So I’ve been scrambling to figure out how to best accomodate. The winter offering of CHEESES ON MY WEBSITE has ended. Last year, this ended without much fanfare. Not this year! We’ve definitely exceeded our capacity for handling of orders.

vegan essentials
The good news is that VEGAN ESSENTIALS is going to start carrying them on their site soon! You should see them there in the next couple weeks.

julie
We have some new cheesemakers too! This is Julie. She helped me way back when I had to teach INTRO TO RAW FOOD on crutches. Julie also works in the bulk section at our local coop. So she’s pretty acclimated to our local food scene. Plus, she used to own HYMIE’S RECORD STORE. How much more qualified could she be?

dan
Our other new cheesemaker is Dan. Dan was part of the team that opened ECOPOLITAN (Minneapolis’ only raw food restaurant). He’s worked at most of the veg friendly restaurants around here. And I had been unwittingly following his food around town. Now he is putting some of that love into our cheese. Yay!

More updates soon…Lots of developments on the way!

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Fighting The Good Fight


January 25th, 2012

fight
Well, I’ve reached a critical part of my journey. I’m about to break through into the land of the living. To functional from dysfunctional. And I’ve been working long and hard at it. This last part is one of the toughest. Lots of baggage to let go of…physical and otherwise. I am fighting the good fight! There are starting to be some glimmers of hope. Miraculous ones.

My cheeses are now being offered in the juice bar at PURE FOOD AND WINE. It’s amazing! Who would have ever thought it would happen? The OTHER STORE in NYC that is carrying my cheese called me to tell me that customers were complaining that they were out of stock. Word is getting out! I am struggling to keep up with demand. Things are starting to shift. Big time. It’s exciting. And nerve wracking. It seems the only thing holding me back at this moment is the money issue. This has always been the hardest piece for me to let go of. Being Asian.

The universe wouldn’t lead me all this way just to fail at the end. I need to keep the faith! Keep pushing ahead. And trust. I can do this!

kickstart campaign
Two weeks left on my KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN. I can definitely use some help getting the word out! Thanks!

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I Heart Yoko


January 14th, 2012

wayne megaphone
Happy New Year! This post is a little delayed. Forgive me. For I have been BUSY. But I had to take a moment to absorb this because it was so inspiring to me on so many levels. How did I ring in 2012? I spent it watching THE PLASTIC ONO BAND and the FLAMING LIPS in Oklahoma City. (Thus, the visit to my ALMA MATER).

yoko ono band
The show did not disappoint. It was so thrilling. I really struggled to be there (due to my MYSTERIOUS LUPUS-LIKE AILMENT). But I fought for it and one (this was a typo which I decided to leave as is). They really went all out. The lights and the balloons were incredible. No expense was spared. It was absolutely breathtaking. Yoko is an artist of the highest caliber. She is amazing. I can’t say enough nice things about her. She is such a rare gem. Intelligent, fierce, intuitive, compassionate, and actualized. Most people go through life living from the outside in. Only very rarely do you encounter a person who is truly actualized. From the inside out. Like Yoko. She is a woman who was so far ahead of her time that a lot of people still don’t get it.

ballons
The show opened with Yoko singing, ‘It happened at a time in our life when I least expected…’ followed by the most gut-wrenching, raw, painful wail you have ever heard. It was abrasive. And it came out of nowhere. And just blew you away. So much pain. Transformed into art. Truly incredible.

yoko sean nels
The band was super tight. But also loose. In the best possible way. One of my favorite moments was watching Nels and Yoko going off on each other. Nels also plays in the band, Wilco. But he’s really versatile. My boyfriend has toured with him a couple times. So I’ve heard a lot of his more experimental stuff. And I’ve seen him play quite a few times. He can be pretty out there. The first time I saw him play, I was bowled over by this bizarre sound. I couldn’t figure out what it was. It was out of this world. So I started looking closer at what was going on. And I noticed that Nels was literally playing his guitar with a springed coil. Instead of a pic. The guy can get wacky! But Nels with Yoko is a very interesting combination. Yoko introduced this crazy noise jam by saying, ‘This is a song that I first played with John. And then Sean. And now Nels…It’s about my childhood or something.’ (Who knew that Yoko has such a dry sense of humor. I am particularly fascinated by this because my mother is Japanese. About the same age as Yoko. And I had always assumed it was because of the language barrier that she didn’t have a sense of humor. It’s not that she doesn’t have one exactly. But something like this would definitely fly under her radar. That is making a connection to another culture that is very unusual for a foreigner). She then proceeded to rock this jam with Nels.




She almost sounds like a guitar. She’s just fully out there. No holds barred. And Nels gets in there and juices it up. It’s unbelievable. She just has no fear. She’s just out there. No safety net. No predictable structure. She’s so fearless that it’s beautifully poetic. Not in a contrived way. But just real. And raw. And present. And truly her own. I feel like this was the reason I needed to be there. I needed to see this. And I needed to draw inspiration from it. This is supposed to be my mantra for 2012. ‘No fear’. It’s like when a person gets sick, they inevitably encounter all kinds of overwhelming situations where they don’t measure up. And I think that in response, a person naturally develops a sense of fear. Of being in situations where they will be overwhelmed. And this is protective and helpful to a point. But in order to rejoin the world of the living, you reach a point where you have to release that fear. I am at that point now. And I think this is why I needed to see Yoko. And why she resonated with me so much.

glasses
The show was hard for me. Mostly the crowd. It was a very packed room. And I often felt overwhelmed. Like the air was too thin. And I might pass out. And I kept going to the back of the venue. To get more air. But I wasn’t leaving. No matter what.

The Lips set was also amazing. Wayne came out in his bubble again. My boyfriend shot this FOOTAGE OF HIM (For some reason, this drat computer won’t let me embed this video. So you have to click to it. Definitely worth it). Truly surreal. The amazing light show and the bubble plus the lips. It was like being in an alternate universe. It was so great that we went two nights in a row. I paid for it though. I spent the entire next day with my head in a garbage bag. But hey! That’s the price you pay sometimes.

moi
This is 2012. No more living in the protective bubble of being sick. It’s time to pop the bubble and get out there and rock. Just like Wayne. And Yoko. I am going to live my life on my terms. And that’s all there is to it. If I allow myself to live in fear of my illness, I will be defined by it. I don’t want that. I am the definer here! And guess what? No illness is going to hold this girl back. Watch out world. Because HERE I COME! Thanks for the inspiration Yoko!

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NYE in OKC


January 5th, 2012

mk-okc and me
Happy New Year! Hope it was a great one. I can’t believe it’s 2012. I’m really encouraged about this year. Because it feels like I’m at a big turning point. This year, I spent New Year’s in Oklahoma (home of MATTHEW KENNEY ACADEMY where I attended CULINARY SCHOOL) and also where the rest of my family lives). This year, there was something big happening in OKC for New Year’s (next blog post). So, I had to be there.

dragon roll
Of course, I had to stop by the restaurant to see what was on the new menu. We went three times while we were in town. Here is a sampling of my favorite menu items. The avocado dragon roll was the first thing I tried. It’s SIMILAR TO THE CATERPILLAR ROLL that was on the menu during my tenure there. I loved it then. And I still love it.

oaxaca
The oaxaca was also a winner. It’s a spicy chocolate banana concoction that really hits the spot.

nye menu
The first night we were there, they had a special menu for New Year’s Eve. So we tried one of those.

soupThis winter vegetable soup was the first course. These were garnished with what seemed like a rosemary pignoli parmesan. Yum! The garnish was bomb, but it kind of made the soup. So once I ate up all the garnish, I was kind of done.  Though admittedly, I’m pretty hard to please in the raw soup department.  Gotta try some rosemary pignoli parm though.  And unbeknownst to me, my boyfriend ordered some pine nuts while I was gone.  They just arrived today, in fact!

dessert
My favorite dish on the New Year’s Eve menu was definitely the Chocolate Gingerbread Sundae. With black cherry syrup and maple candied hazelnuts. Winning! And not in a drug induced stupor kind of way. The real deal. I got to meet the chef behind it while I was there too. Tatiana from Toronto. Also a former student. And now the pastry chef.

scando
We had to get our green quotient in while we were there too. These are the sour cream and onion kale chips. We got some of these for the drive home too.

salsa verde
This is the salsa verde salad sub kale and guac for the avocado. This was recommended to us by our extremely personable hostess, Vicki (I hope I spelled that right). She didn’t steer us wrong. Our waiter also recommended the chipotle kale salad which I liked a lot too. These two were definitely my faves.

brunch
We came by for brunch on New Year’s Day too. And ordered the brunch sampler. Which is a little bit of everything. A really nice variety and great for sharing.

okc and me
So all in all, it was great to check in and see the latest. Definitely got spoiled being there full time for a while. Rumor has it though that a new location might be popping up a little closer to home soon…

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Travelling In The Raw


November 30th, 2011

robin
Today I am writing to tell you about one of my fellow alumni from MATTHEW KENNEY ACADEMY, Robyn Law aka GIRL ON RAW. Robin is a former flight attendant and expert on TRAVELLING IN THE RAW.

travelling in the rawShe has just published a new eBook on the subject aptly titled ‘Travelling in the Raw’. I am really excited about this development for a number of reasons. My boyfriend is actually in Europe right now on tour. So I emailed him a copy. He travels a lot. He actually just came home from an East Coast tour. He was back for 24 hours. Then, he left for Europe. He comes home next week for 12 hours, and then he leaves again for the West Coast. It’s exciting and a little glamorous. He keeps inviting me to go to Europe with him. He travels so much that he has a bazillion frequent flyer miles. So my plane ticket would be free. But I haven’t gone yet. Why?! Is this question that everyone asks.

girl on rawWell a lot of it was because I needed someone to write this book for me. If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you will know of my struggles with AUTOIMMUNE ISSUES. I used to love travelling. My father, in fact, also worked for the airline industry. So we travelled a lot growing up. But now the issue is food. Since my immune system is so reactive, it’s really important what I eat. Falling off the wagon on vacation has some pretty dramatic consequences for me. This can easily snowball into me not being able to get out of bed for days. Which is not really appropriate for travelling. Esp with a group of people on a tight schedule. As a result, I’ve been becoming increasingly introverted and anti-social as this thing has played out. And I need to break out of this rut. Thank you, Robyn! For doing all the leg work!!

travel snacks
It’s pretty cute. My boyfriend has been trying to stake out the safe places for me all over the globe. He always brings me the latest in raw food snacks! And emails me pictures of all the good food he is eating. This is what he brought me last week from LIVE LIVE in NYC. I’m starting to feel brave. Maybe this will be the year!

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Home Sweet Home


September 26th, 2011

rawsome
Well, I’m back from the west coast. My boyfriend was doing a tour there. So I joined him for the first part. The NORTHERN PART. He kept going. He sent me this picture. He just happened to pass it on the way somewhere.

sign
Looks like Rawsome is still WORKING THINGS OUT with the authorities.

aniphyoLook what else he came across. They were at KCRW (the local NPR station) making THIS APPEARANCE on ‘Morning Becomes Eclectic’, and he found this autographed polaroid of ANI PHYO on the wall!  How random.  I guess it’s a small world after all. Wish I could have made it that far south. But alas. Not on this trip. Had to get back home to be taking care of business. My ‘groupie slut’ days were numbered.

almond milk
In other news, I just posted a NEW VIDEO for PUNK RAWK LABS TV. Make your own almond milk. Lots of videos on the way too. Including one from Seattle…

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Back at 105


April 6th, 2011

105
Yesterday, I made it back to 105 DEGREES for the first time since GRADUATION. They were having a tasting and a presentation by none other than MATTHEW KENNEY. I was so relieved to find this bottle of kefir in the shop. Kefir is my number one weapon against recurring CANDIDA flare-ups (which I’m currently staving off).

champ
They had some champagne too (which I, sadly, can’t have). But my mom really liked it.

beet ravioli
This was the beet ravioli. The beet had a very interesting texture. I’m really curious how they accomplished that.

cheddar
I’m not exactly sure what this was. The server said it was a cheddar cashew wrap. My mom said I should tell Matthew Kenney that it would have been excellent with a touch of wasabi. I would have except there were people filming his every move.

sesame gelato
This was the sesame gelato. I was expecting this to be sweet and not savory. I thought the mushroom was some sort of chocolate/graham cracker like garnish. It kind of reminded me of this one time in first grade when my mom (who every day for weeks beforehand put milk in my thermos) switched up the program and gave me lemonade. I was expecting milk. So when it was lemonade, I thought it was rotten. The same thing happened here. I might have liked it a lot better otherwise.

Afterwards, MK gave an excellent presentation on the benefits of raw food. I was really excited because my parents were there (and they are not really sure what to make of what I eat still). I was hoping that some of the message might sink in a little. I’m sad to report though that my mom went through the McDonald’s drive-thru afterwards and ate fries for dinner. Well, I tried anyway. I’ll keep working at it.

It was nice to see the restaurant so packed. I also saw my instructor, LADAN, Megan (who runs the Academy now), and KELLY LEE (the GM). It was great to check in with people again. I can’t believe it’s already been a year since graduation. Things have definitely not UNFOLDED how I would have guessed. Matthew Kenney said we were all warriors on the battlefield that is the food industry. All the real warriors get a little gimpy now and then, right? So, I guess you could say that I’m right on target. :)

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