Our latest Chef's Life comes with a slight twist, as this time we catch up with business owner Bonnie Chung. For years, miso was Bonnie’s secret weapon in the kitchen. Her fascination with the ancient super food took her on a three year quest to learn the craft of miso making in Japan. Within two years of launching Miso Tasty her products were stocked in over 1,000 stores nationwide including Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Ocado and Wholefoods. Today, Miso Tasty make delicious Japanese snacks and meals including soups, pastes and ramen kits, which are easy, nutritious and all feature their favourite ingredient Miso.
WHEN AND WHY DID YOU BECOME A FOOD ENTREPRENEUR?
I’ve always wanted to run my own business but my first love was food! I was driven to create something I believed in and didn’t already exist. I love the creativity and autonomy of having my own business, and still after six years I wake up excited to start the day.
White miso ice cream (Photo credit: Miso Tasty The CookBook)
It is often assumed that the biggest hurdle is getting into the retailers, but actually I think the most challenging thing is creating a product that people really want and love. It took us three years to develop and fully test our products before we launched it; those years set me up to handle the challenges that were ahead of me. Our customers love our products but I put that down to putting the hard miles in early on. It’s paid off!
We are so much more adventurous and excited to try new things than we used to be which is fantastic. I have also noticed a greater number of people travelling to Japan for holidays, which has driven consumers to look for more authentic products and experiences back in the UK.
Sapporo Miso Ramen (Photo credit: Miso Tasty The CookBook)
Leadership inspires me; whether they run a business or an organisation, rather than entrepreneurs per se. I love Oprah, which is probably a controversial answer; she is motivated by something deeper but has been able to translate that into profitable businesses and organisations that she can give back too. She has made a business from being herself and very entertaining!
There is a lovely local Italian called il Bacio in my neighbourhood of Stoke Newington that is always open late and serving pasta to the early hours.
Grilled Mackerel with Orange Miso Sauce (Photo credit: Miso Tasty The CookBook)
It’s got to be dim sum, piled high in bamboo steamers.
WHAT ARE YOUR FIVE INGREDIENTS WHEN COOKING ASIAN FOOD?
Miso (of course!) mirin, shaoxing wine, soy sauce and rock sugar! You can make a lot of fantastic dishes with these simple ingredients.
Not making sure the pan is smoking hot before cooking! Rushing this step usually ends in food that is overcooked or lacking texture.
Braised Miso & Ginger Pork Ribs with a Sticky Miso Plum Sauce (Photo credit: Miso Tasty The CookBook)
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING FOOD ENTREPRENEURS?
Take your time developing a product that you are truly proud of and has clear USPs. It’s a competitive market so you need to compete well on quality and distinctiveness that your valued customer can build loyalty too.
Buy Miso Tasty: The Cookbook online at SushiSushi here.