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Meet Fen Yi Chen of Mad Dumplings in Orange County/LA County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Fen Yi Chen.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Well, let me start by prefacing what I was doing before Mad Dumplings: I was a Journalist in the field of Banking; strange, right? I thought the same thing. I was in a profession I never thought I’d be in, but that’s how it goes. Sometimes, you don’t get to do what you want to do, as long as it pays the bills and you live a comfortable life, you’re all set.

Fast-forward to the middle of 2015, when a bunch of friends and I were driving back from Lake George, NY when I had the idea of what Mad Dumplings eventually became. I thought, “why can’t I put anything I want in a dumplings?” and “why haven’t other people figured out a way make this popular?”

As a 27-year-old, 3.5 years into the banking industry, bored out of my mind, and just wanting to take the leap into something larger and willing to test my will as much as possible, I decided to quit my job, drive cross-country, and live my dream.

On April 15, 2016, I made my journey west with one of my best friends and on April 21st, we finally made it to California, where I would stay with my Uncle as I started Mad Dumplings.

On November 19th, my business partner, Edwin Lee and I made our dreams a reality by officially opening Mad Dumplings to the general public, serving dumplings never seen anywhere in the world. Our customers in Orange and LA County have loved our food from the start, and in late 2018, we won Andrew Zimmern’s Food Network show, “The Big Food Truck Tip,” where he proclaimed Mad Dumplings as the best gourmet food truck in Southern California. That was our defining moment as a business, as everything we worked for from 2016-present was all worth it; everything we sacrificed had come full-circle and we were not validated. The day Andrew Zimmern announced us to be the winners, I almost broke down in tears right on Huntington Beach Pier. At that very moment, we had proved all our doubters wrong and no one could tell us we made a mistake by moving forward with Mad Dumplings.

Since then, we’ve collaborate with Disney for an entire year, where we brought Mad Dumplings to Downtown Disney, serving all their guests. We also won “Best Dumpling” at the Dumpling and Beer Festival in San Gabriel, an epicenter of Asian food, specifically, dumplings.

We’ve had many defining moments as a truck, but they all led to us expanding and opening a second truck. Every business owner dreams of expanding, and we did that, and I am truly proud of my business partner, past and present employees, and everyone who has helped Mad Dumplings the last three years. It has truly been a blessing.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There were a few things that we struggled with out of the gate:

Scaling from cooking for small crowds to enormous crowds that want their food fast!

Getting our social media right. That means increasing from 200-300 followers to what we’re currently at: 11,700.

Working everyday and every time that we can. Without our consistent work in the first two years, we would not be where we are today, at a team of over ten members.

Mad Dumplings – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Mad Dumplings is one of the best Food Trucks in Orange and LA County. We create the most unique dumplings, rice bowls and waffle fries dishes not served anywhere else. I pride myself in creating and reinventing the dumpling game, serving one-of-a-kind dumplings to all our wonderful customers.

I am most proud of the fact that we have maintained our mantra of not selling out and creating menu items for the sake of making sales. Our entire menu is unique and flavored to perfection.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
It has to be winning Andrew Zimmer’s Food Network show, “The Big Food Truck Tip.” He said our truck and concept floats above everyone else’s and we were the best bite he had in Southern California. There are over 1000 food trucks in Orange and LA County, and we were his number one. What a great moment that was.

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