Most Americans didn’t grow up eating bold flavors like fish sauce, fermented black bean paste and Sichuan peppercorn. If Hansen Shieh has his way, they will.
When Hansen Shieh was eight years old, his obviously awesome (wait for it) mom took him out for lunch. As he bit into his first Sichuan pepper, his mouth exploded in flavor and heat. And his mom, the badass that she so clearly is, just laughed at him.
Now, some 30 years later, Hansen is on a mission to bring the kick of Sichuan and other flavors, including Chinese fermented black bean, tamarind and fish sauce to the mainstream with his company, One Culture Foods. His sauces are delicious, but what I love about his brand is that it’s not ONLY about flavor.
Hansen’s also keeping an eye on how to bring us all together one forkful at a time:
“It’s all about focusing on what makes us the same versus what makes us different. I think there’s so much energy being spent around our differences, but it’s really important to highlight those things we can all relate to.”
So, how’d it all happen, and what’d we talk about?
Hansen started off in Cali, hanging out in the kitchen with his grandma. Then he went to school, worked for the NFL out of college and eventually got into finance. But when all that left him unfulfilled, he decided to follow his heart, which (with a little help from a friend) he realized, was completely in love with sauces.
We talk shop about the lessons he’s learned in the first year of business, including the most rewarding moment. And Hansen shares his guilty food pleasure, plus the Taiwanese food that he’s confident will never catch on stateside.
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Show notes [times are approximate]:
What is One Culture Foods and what is the inspiration behind the brand? [1:12]
Hansen’s first experience with schezan peppercorn [5:12]
Cooking with grandma and comfort foods [7:23]
Did Hansen ever think he’d work in food? [9:37]
Comparisons between working for the NFL and the food world [13:33]
Lessons learned in the first year of business [15:22]
One Culture Foods origin story [19:21]
Focusing on the commonalities of culture [26:16]
How Hansen named the company [29:24]
Most rewarding moment since starting the company [31:35]
What’s next for One Culture Foods? [35:24]
Quick fire questions [36:35]
Connect with Hansen:
GET YOURSELF SOME CULTURE.
The intro music for the We Could Make That podcast was created by Brooklyn-based artist, Jenna Kyle. You can check out her new (non-podcast) music on Soundcloud.