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Hidden Gems: Meet Grace Tseng of Mama Yang and Daughter

Today we’d like to introduce you to Grace Tseng.

Hi Grace, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
I (Grace Tseng), was previously an educator who also led trips to China during my teaching days. For the many trips I took with students, I noticed that the students’ go-to comfort food while traveling in China was dumplings! I started to ponder on the idea of having a dumpling truck at first. However, I didn’t follow through with the idea and moved to New York City in the fall of 2019. I got to experience life in NYC for a short period of time, and eat so many amazing foods! But I found myself still craving and missing my mom’s dumplings. Due to the pandemic, I decided to move back to Nashville. This was when my previous dumpling idea started to shape up! I reached out to my mom (Mama Yang) and asked her if she would be interested in helping me start this business. She agreed without hesitation. Then, in January of 2021, we started brainstorming and figuring out the possibilities that could allow us to offer our authentic dumplings in Nashville.

We started our business serving cooked dumplings at Citizen Kitchen (a commercial kitchen). Then we had opportunities to take our frozen products to Richland Park Farmers Market. Our summer was filled with farmers’ market appearances around town! We are also doing pop-ups every now and then so people can try our other delicious authentic Taiwanese dishes!

We have been fortunate to have our supportive communities here in Nashville. Encouraging friends and families, experienced food business colleagues, and the most supportive customers a mother and daughter could ask for all contribute to this important part of our journey. We are extremely thankful for the love we receive from Nashville.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Starting a business is challenging, no matter what. But being a mother/daughter team can add a few additional challenges of its own (a tiny offset to the numerous advantages it provides!). We are each other’s biggest critics – we don’t hold back on our thoughts and opinions! There were several emotional conversations because we couldn’t agree on the same thing. For example, Mama Yang didn’t want her name to be in the brand! But after explaining my reasons to her, she was finally on the same page as me. It took some persuading from my side for sure. Through many conversations, we learned to respect and trust each other as not just mother and daughter, but also as business partners. And now, Mama Yang handles all things food, and I handle all things business!

As you know, we’re big fans of Mama Yang and Daughter. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
We specialize in dumplings and other delicious Taiwanese foods. All the dumplings we sell to our customers are handmade, from scratch – including all the dumpling wrappers! Every single dumpling is hand-folded by us. Mama Yang experimented with different folds so that we can easily distinguish which fillings are inside. Mama Yang’s dumplings are fully packed with fillings and flavor. Our wrappers are thin enough to hold the large amount of fillings. Lastly, Mama Yang also has her specialty dumpling sauce that adds even more flavor to the dumpling meal. Our specialty sauce can also be used in several different recipes, ranging from stir-frying vegetables to marinating seafood. Mama Yang’s talent doesn’t just stop at dumplings: she has many other authentic Taiwanese foods that she is eager to share with Nashville.

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
I see the food industry becoming more diversified amongst growing cities; not just in a metropolis. I think we will see more and more cultural specialty businesses popping up even in smaller parts of the US.

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Image Credits

Caitlin Harris

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