Cooking Lessons: Christina Wang
As in cooking, entrepreneurship starts with a vision. Someone gives you a recipe (which you may or may not follow), and you begin collecting ingredients. Some you already have. Others you have to go out and find. Then you observe, experiment, practice, improvise, manage and, eventually you hope, create.
Cooking Lessons is a new small-bite series asking food entrepreneurs to reflect on their origins.
Christina Wang is a Boston-based strategy and business development consultant in the food and beverage industry. Previously, she worked for Marcus Samuelsson, the International Culinary Center, Strategy & and JP Morgan.
- “What recipe did you set out to make?”
I set out to actualize my passion. I was a banker and a strategy consultant, but always loved food. After years dancing around the margins, I wanted in. Food is so often about feelings and flavors, but to build a business, you also have to pull it all together. Realizing that I could use my business skills to help push the industry forward was really great.
- “What were the most important ingredients to your start?”
Perseverance. Humility. Being humble with the people you are learning from. If I hadn’t listened and taken the time to learn, I wouldn’t have built up my knowledge and now be surrounded with great clients and colleagues. Credibility and integrity are everything. There’s a lot of crap (and a lot of awesome as well) in the restaurant business, but if you treat people with respect, do what you say you are going to do, in other words be trustworthy, you can go far. Coming from a business perspective, you have the luxury of primarily focusing on making money, but in food, a lot of it is about craft, and making something with passion.
- “What do you wish someone had told you at the beginning?”
“There is no straight path to where you want to go. And that’s okay.” I came from a very structured industry. In banking, you start out as an analyst, go to business school, and come back as an associate. Food is different. There are paths everywhere. Don’t get discouraged by this.
- “Why is this the work that you craved?”
As a human being, you need to feel alive and that you’re worth something. When I worked only in business and with Excel sheets, I didn’t have the words to voice the hunger I felt. For me personally, working in food, eating food, being surrounded by others in this industry, it feeds me—spiritually and physically.