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Jing Gao believes that passion is not something you are born with but cultivated through dedication and perseverance. In the narrative of Fly By Jing, it’s a concept that is explored in-depth: The company began as an underground dinner club in 2016, before Gao expanded the idea to include a product line of Sichuan sauces two years later.
However, the topic also refers to Gao’s quest for her own identity and how she could recover hers via a reconnection with her ancestors. To commemorate International Women’s Day, Gao sat down with Entrepreneur to discuss how she came to build Fly By Jing and how communicating her story was critical to the company’s growth and success.
Creating A Sense Of Inspiration
During Gao’s childhood, the family often moved to locations where Chinese products could not be easily found, he explains. Even though she was born in Chengdu, China, her father’s career as a professor meant that the family often moved.
“It was sort of a continual adapting, code-switching, and trying to fit in,” Gao says of the transition from Germany to England, then Austria, France, and Italy. “It was kind of a constant adapting, code-switching, and trying to fit in.” “However, my mother was an inspiration to me in that she adapted to cooking in the nations where we were living while utilizing the limited resources and products that were available to her.”
On the other hand, Gao acknowledges that it wasn’t until she returned to China in her early twenties that she developed a fascination for the country’s diverse culinary scene. Being exposed to Chinese cuisine in all of its complexity and variety “awakened” her taste, and she realized it was something she wanted others to experience as well.
First, Gao’s enthusiasm for sharing Chinese food manifested itself in writing for her blog and numerous media. However, the more she researched, learned, and cooked her way through Chinese cuisine, the more she wanted to engage in the food industry. Gao put her enthusiasm to work in 2014 when she co-founded the Shanghai eatery Daoism. Restaurant Gao was described as “a Chipotle for China” because it focused on openly sourced, healthy, and clean food at a low price. Gao compared the idea to that of “a Chipotle for China.”
In 2016, she took advantage of the popularity of her restaurant to open Fly By Jing, an underground supper club in the heart of Beijing. Gao toured the globe with her company, hosting pop-up dinners in Hong Kong, Japan, and Australia. She operated as a one-woman show, handling all aspects of the operation, from cooking to branding to dealing with customers.
Gao’s experiences, on the other hand, showed her that, although she enjoyed working with food, her passion for the cuisine did not always extend to presenting it.
According to Gao, “owning and operating a restaurant was not exactly what I intended to accomplish.” “I had a great time with it. I get a great deal of knowledge. However, the elements of the process that I enjoyed the most were the product creation, the taste creation, the narrative, and the brand identity development. And I was well aware that I wanted to make these tastes available to a greater audience on a larger scale. “I wanted to question some of the preconceived preconceptions about what Chinese cuisine can or should be,” says the chef.