PORTLAND, Oregon — One of the most influential people in Portland's restaurant industry has always been behind the scenes, but now she is stepping into the spotlight to teach others how to cook.
Huang has now embarked on a new professional journey, getting back to basics with cooking classes in person and online.
"My parents had a small Chinese restaurant in [New] Jersey. Every weekend, for example, we would make scallion pancakes," said Huang. "It's something that's in my heart. I just know that I love making it and I love eating it."
Huang started her food journey through family, then worked in web design for the Food Network. Then came a stint in cooking school, restaurant jobs, and finally a move to Portland with wife Carrie Welch, the public relations side of things. Together with business partner Mike Thelin, they brainstormed a food festival to rival any other and called it Feast.
"We just wanted to put on basically the biggest rock star party that we could for food," Huang said.
Now, a life change.
"I just realized I want to cook. It's all I want to do. I want to cook," she said. "I want bring people together and I just want to make them laugh."
Huang and Welch dismantled their PR firm recently and sold their stake in Feast to Thelin.
Now she has added live, online cooking classes for dumplings, scallion pancakes, tortellini and focaccia via the how-to and gifting website Uncommon Goods.
As well as upcoming in-person classes at Southeast Portland's Cookshop on Clinton Street. Cookshop hosts classes on everything from pastry, pasta, bread baking, kids summer cooking classes that even include art. One of their most popular classes is a four-week class called Kitchen Essentials.
"The thing that I love about the class [is] our instructor has designed it so that each week you're making a full meal," said owner Meredith Mortensen. " Most weeks include a salad, a main dish, a side dish and a dessert. So you're learning a whole bunch of different techniques like sautéing and knife skills, and how to organize your ingredients and plan ahead for the following week. So by the end of it, you've learned all of these really basic techniques, but we didn't just sit down and say, 'Now we're learning how to sauté.' It just naturally comes about during the recipes."
All classes will be limited to 10 people and they are completely hands on.
"That's the best way to learn, right?" Huang said. "To do it yourself. So everybody will have their own station and I'll show them my wrapping technique, along with some fun tips."