The internet is full of bad things. But luckily, Facebook cooking groups exist.
Honestly, there's nothing that makes me believe more in the concept of unity than a bunch of strangers who want to share and exchange recipes and cooking tips solely out of the kindness of their hearts.
Among the most popular of online culinary communities today is Subtle Asian Baking, a group of dessert and pastry enthusiasts that has amassed over 155,000 members since it came to life in May 2020. As it alludes to in its name, the group acts as a forum for sharing classic recipes that incorporate the use of Asian ingredients or baking methods.
Think matcha tiramisu. Pumpkin butter mochi. Or Hello Kitty-themed dim sum.
The group all began when founder Kat Lieu started to feel nostalgic for Asian baked goods during the pandemic. BuzzFeed spoke with Kat to learn about how the group has grown since then.
Like many of us, Kat was trapped at home in the spring of 2020, prompting her to miss her mother's Cantonese desserts and the baked goods she had while on a recent trip to Asia. Kat wanted to get a taste of those flavors again, and so she searched online, hoping to find a space where she could find recipe inspiration for Asian baked goods.
Kat decided to take matters into her own hands and create her own group. And so, Subtle Asian Baking was born.
Kat invited a hundred of her closest friends to the group, and from there, it took off. "It blew up to thousands of members within the week," she explained. "Sixty-thousand members by the summer of 2020." Clearly, it was an instant hit, and people from all over the world joined to share their recipes, food pics, and cooking tips.
"Things have changed over the last few years, and that change has intensified over the last few months — Subtle Asian Baking is no longer just a small community of bakers swapping recipes, but a movement for culinary innovation. I mean, oh my god, a mochi in a muffin. Wouldn’t you want that, too?" one group member told Eater in 2020.
After realizing that she now had a platform that could inspire change, Kat decided to host Subtle Asian Baking's first fundraiser. The group had a mukbang, or a live-streamed eating show, in which people were able to donate money through a link promoted in the live. The group was able to raise over $4,000 for the Alzheimer's Society of Toronto.
"It was such a victory for us. We were just a Facebook group," she said. "And we were able to raise so much money and rally so many people together."
Jumping off of the success of their first charity event, Kat then planned other projects to support Asian businesses in 2021.
The members had a bake sale, and raised $15,000 for Welcome to Chinatown, a nonprofit organization that works to support New York City's Chinatown.
Beyond fundraising, Kat hopes that the group will promote a worldwide appreciation for Asian dishes.
"My whole point is so that if I bring my son — who is 9 years old — something that's Asian related or an Asian baked goodie to his classmates...," she explained, "...that people would be like, 'Oh my God, that's so cool' instead of what I felt as a child in the '90s, where people gave me faces, or yucked my yum."
Kat emphasized that you don't have to be Asian to join or contribute, or even to recreate a recipe, but wants to encourage everyone to give back in ways that they can.
"I want everyone to appreciate these flavors, but also to give kudos — if, for instance, you're making a Chinese recipe that you were inspired by, give proper credit to the Chinese recipe," she said. "Don't just love our food, but love our community and our people as well," she said.
The group will continue to host live bakeoffs and fundraisers, so be sure to keep up with them on Facebook and Instagram.
In the meantime, I'll be figuring out how to make matcha tiramisu. 😌🎂
What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
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