Friday - July 14, 2010 Share Del.icio.us | Podcast | WineAndDineHawaii.com
Occupation: Owner (with sister Alice) of Panya Bakery.
Where were you born and raised? I was born in Hong Kong and came here in the ‘80s to go to UH. After I graduated, I worked for large retail organizations here.
Did you always want to have a restaurant and bakery? No, not really. My sister Alice also came to Hawaii to go to school, and after she graduated she was looking for a business opportunity. The former Alfonso bakery was for sale and we bought it.
Did you know how to bake? (Laughs) Well, we’d always liked baking and eating baked goods. In Japan we’d buy pastries by the dozen and take them to our hotel room and try them all!
How did you learn the delicate technique that is a signature at Panya? Our father knew a master baker in Japan, and he agreed to teach us. We also knew that we wanted a bakery where people could serve themselves, and we thought the lighter style of Japanese pastries would do well in Hawaii.
What’s the most difficult thing to master in baking? It’s such a precise skill. Everything has to be perfect, and you just can’t take anything for granted. The flour has to be right, the temperature - everything. Another master baker taught us to respect the dough, to love it, and I think that’s important, too. They’re all small things, but very important in creating good food.
Where do you like to eat out? Basically we live in Panya! My son loves Chinese food, especially shrimp and smoked duck.
Who’s been the biggest influence in your life? Our dad. He is constantly behind us both supporting and pushing us. We have to do it (succeed) and then prove to him that we’re still doing it! He’s a traditional Japanese-influenced Chinese man: If he doesn’t scold us, it’s already good!
Would you like to bake for anyone in particular? Oprah, of course.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the 13 years of Panya? Be persistent and don’t give up no matter what happens or how badly people treat you. We’re women in business, minorities in business, sometimes it’s been hard. We treat people very nicely. We run a business that supports employees who all support their own families. We consider them and think of them all the time.
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