Erchen Chang; probably not a name you’ve heard often but one that you definitely should know. Chang is a Taiwanese chef who holds the head chef position at three separate restaurants in London – Bao, Bao Fitzrovia and Xu.
Erchen has been experimenting with cooking and developing her culinary skills since she was 14-years-old. She attended a school that was quite a trek away from her family home, which meant that she often found herself eating dinner out in the city close to her school, working her way around different food stands at the night markets. This helped her to try new foods, experiment with new flavours and develop a new found love for food.
Back at home, Chang wasn’t allowed to cook. She lived with her grandmother who took charge of all the cooking. She often cooked for the entire family, which meant portion sizes were large – usually suited to around 10 people! Chang would be allowed to assist her grandmother but only in small ways, usually preparing a garnish or something else equally as menial.
Eventually, her family sent her to a boarding school in London and it was here that Erchen was able to fully pursue her love and passion for food. She went on to attend the Slade School of Fine Art at the University College of London and it was here that she met a new friend, Shing Tat Chung. Chung’s family had their own restaurant in Nottingham that specialised in Cantonese food, and so Shing Tat, her sister Wai Ting and Erchen went on to open their own street food stand, Bao, in 2012.
Their food stand was a monumental success, and so the trio were able to open up the stand in a permanent spot in Hackney. The success for the trio only continued and before long, they were opening a second permanent restaurant in Soho. The two Bao restaurants became firm favourites with locals and popular hotspots for tourists in the area too.
Before long, Erchen decided to branch out and open a totally different restaurant, Xu. Xu still specialised in Tawainese cuisine but the feel of the place is slightly different to the two Bao joints.
Erchen’s story is one of passion, hard work and determination. Her love of cooking and food gave her such drive that she never gave up on her dream. It’s also a great example of being open to every opportunity that comes your way; Erchen was able to move to London, make friends in the food industry who shared her own passions for food and then open up not one, not two but three restaurants of her own. None of these would have been possible had she not pursued every opportunity to follow her dreams that came her way. Every young woman with a dream can relate to this story and should follow by Erchan Chang’s incredible example, which is why she is this week’s Amor’s WCW.
Words : Florence Grace