Jade Chocolates is multi award winning chocolate company specializing in blending teas, spices and tropical fruits from Asia and the Pacific Islands.
My cultural background is mixed. Not just because my father’s family is from China, and my mother is from the Philippines, but because the culture in which I grew up in is non-homogeneous. I am a native San Franciscan, still living here and probably always will. I live in the center of a melting pot of different cultures and have been exposed to different foods and people just by simply stepping outside my front door. The culinary delights of the city have made me appreciate the world, its people and their food.
I was originally destined to work in the architectural field graduating from UCDavis with a degree in Environmental Design. Prior to creating Jade Chocolates, I was an architectural designer. I’ve worked in both the public and private sectors, working on tiny 300 square foot studios apartments to multi-million dollar single-family homes. They were great jobs with great pay, but I didn’t feel passionate enough about my work. I felt I could do so much more. When I decided to raise a family, I knew that that was the beginning of my new life. I’d start a business, just like my grandfather, and be the best at what I create.
Owner & Chocolatier
I consider myself a self trained chocolatier, however, I have since starting this venture, I have taken weekend courses from Chef Andrew Shotts of Garrison Confections and Chef Jin Ju of JinJu Confections. These courses helped me to refine my skills.
The leap from architectural designer to chocolatier isn't that big. In fact, there are many similarities. Both are art forms. It all depends on how you translate yourself and how well your art is accepted by others. One aspect of architecture is that the designer should create habitable spaces that flow well. The transition between a living room, the adjacent kitchen and dining room has a great impact for it's users. A great flow between spaces means that you have a well thought out floor plan. And a great recipe for chocolate means that there is an ease of flow between flavors.
Why not be an entrepreneur? My grandfather did it. He owned three restaurants and three liquor stores during his lifetime. He didn’t just own these establishments, he ran them all as well. He was the cook serving up Chinese and American dishes and he was the clerk at his liquor stores.
Those stats are pretty impressive considering his meager beginnings. Grandpa was born in Canton, China back in 1902. He decided to leave his family to come to California at the age of 16 knowing that he would never return to see his family again. He didn't speak a word of English, had $20 dollars in his pocket, and knew no one in this country. Just writing about this, I can only imagine the courage he had in him, as well as the desperation to elevate his life and his parent's life back in China.
I remember one day when I was a little girl, we drove up to a Victorian house somewhere in Napa, California. He told me that he used to work in this house, as a house boy. “A house boy?”, I thought. “How peculiar!”. He must have had numerous odd jobs before he was able to become an entrepreneur.
So, what’s this story doing in my company's website? It’s a simple answer. For me, it all starts with my grandfather. If he could immigrate here and become a successful businessman, I can become successful in anything I do. He had more obstacles stacked against him. He came here with no money, no family support, he had to learn a new language, and he was of Chinese descent.
My grandparents in a traditional tai chi pose. They practiced tai chi every single morning in the backyard for as long as I can remember
The traits of my grandfather is a reflection in how I operate Jade Chocolates. Creating Jade Chocolates won’t be easy, but it can’t be that hard. My grandfather showed me that.