Mum's the Word on Vegan Chinese Food

Jade Rathore is one busy women! A mother of a small child, the manager at a global company and recently starting a vegan Chinese food business called Phung Kay. Rachel Ho caught up with Jade to find out more about where she gets her work ethic from, her transition into veganism and how she manages to get everything done.

Photo Supplied: Jade Rathore cooking vegan Chinese food for Phung Kay.

Where did you grow up and what did your parents do? 

I was born and raised in Birmingham and after a brief stint in Manchester, I moved to the Big Smoke in 2008. My parents were migrants who fled Vietnam post war in the late 70's, they brought with them artisanal tofu making skills which has grown into the family business over the last few decades. 

What is your relationship to Tottenham?

I moved to Tottenham in February 2012 with my husband. I have always been passionate about connecting with my local community and set up a supper-club/ food pop up just so that I could meet people in the area. I'm so fortunate to have met so many amazing locals and businesses. I truly believe that food has an amazing way of connecting people!

Tell us about Phung Kay. What is it and how did is start?

I started experimenting with dairy substitute products about a year ago as my 20 month old toddler was born with a dairy and egg allergy. My business partner Angela introduced me to veganism last year and this along with watching the documentary 'What the Health' has changed the way in which I eat forever. 

Phung Kay are our Chinese names, I'm Phung and Angela is Kay. We are a Vegan Chinese Food business and cook food inspired by flavours of our heritage and travels around Asia. Our first official pop up was held in December 2017 at Craving Coffee in Tottenham, this was followed by our Chinese New Year celebration where we created a special 6 course menu to welcome the Year of the Dog. We've received so much positive feedback and we're excited to launch our first market stall at the Fat Gay Vegan Market in Hackney Wick. 

What are some of the challenges running a food business, particularly as a mother?

Running a food business does have its challenges and the hours can be long. I also have a full time job as Manager of Retail Operations for a global cosmetics company and manage a team of 150+ as well as running a collective for mums called Juxlo Mama.

My ambition, work ethic and values are rooted in my upbringing. My mother is my inspiration, she came to the UK with just the clothes on her back and raised 7 kids in a 'foreign' country. Through sheer love, hard work and fearless entrepreneurial determination she built a foundation to give us a better future.

I'm fortunate to have a very supportive husband and the arrival of our son gave me a new found perspective and purpose. It must sound like i'm juggling a lot and the hardest part of it all is 'mum guilt' - mums know what I mean!! However it’s all about planning my days and making sure I have quality time with the boys. Knowing that i'm doing all of this for them makes it all worth it. 

Photo Supplied: Jade "Phung" (L) with her Phung Kay business partner Angela "Kay" (R)

Any advice would you give to women wanting to start a food business?

It's an exciting time for women in the food industry!! I love seeing so many amazing new startups created by women /mothers. 

Test and refine your product, ask for feedback. Connect with other food businesses and ask for support. Go to food events, join business groups (I joined the Step Up Club), build your power team, have you noticed a common theme? It''s all about community and supporting your local girl gang! 

Photo Supplied: One of Phung Kay's delicious vegan Chinese dishes

As a woman, how do you think the Tottenham has changed? What would you like to see change?

There are so many inspiring women in Tottenham who have set up their own business and it would be great to see more of these. Wouldn't it be great if our high street had more independent offerings set up by local women? 

Here are a few of my local Tottenham girlfriends, who are doing amazing stuff: 

Selma Nicholls founder of Looks Like Me, a talent agency that aims to redefine beauty by raising the profile of underrepresented groups in the fashion and advertising world. 

Sara Popowa founder of food blog Shisodelicious. Sara hosts bento making classes and other events in the area, go check out her instagram and drool over her beautiful feed. 

Sam Rigby co founder of Redemption Brewing Company, an award winning craft brewery in the heart of Tottenham. 

Sophie Tang founder of Tangy's, a street food/ kitchen pop up cooking South East Asian Fusion food. 

Favourite thing to do in Tottenham?

Brunch at one of the awesome cafes: Craving, Blighty, Tri Prana

Long walks in Tottenham Marshes or Lordship Recreation Ground

Sunday food market: Tottenham Green Market 

Music at Five Miles/ Styx 

Drink Beer at Redemption, Pressure Drop, Beavertown, BrewHeadz, One Mile End

Find out more about Phung Kay:

#workingmother #ladystartup #vegan #streetfood #PhungKay #Chinesefood #JadeRathore