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Meet Patricia Huang and Albert Chu of ChefBox in South Pasadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Patricia Huang and Albert Chu.

Patricia and Albert, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
We were both teammates at the 626 Night Market team right since the second event. We individually saw the big potential of the event and jumped right in – that’s how we met. Albert is the engineer and managed and built special projects at each event, while Patricia managed vendors and built the live marketplace management part of the team. Together, they also created and lead the section manager team that holds the live marketplace together to this day at each event.

We really started working together when we came up with the crazy idea of creating the world’s largest cup of boba tea and co-spearheaded it to pull off the world record in 2 short months. It was a huge success! We held the largest boba tea for several events and sold it to Los Vegas.
Details: https://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/interview-fearless-duo-who-brought-worlds-largest-boba-cup-los-angeles

Albert left after 3 years due to the strain of hosting massive weekend events while working full-time as a pharmaceutical engineer at Baxter. He was also using his vacation days at Baxter to be at the setup of the events as well. While the team can rest right after each event, he had to go right back to work. Patricia is still active in hosting the night markets today.

Now – CHEFBOX: We love big ideas. We noticed that our vendors desired more outlets to sell the food they love to make (without quitting their main job or spending $200k on launching a restaurant or relying on gig-to-gig catering or cooking out someone’s recipes at a restaurant) and that there’s very limited outlets for very talented cooks to flex their culinary creativity without grappling with the logistics side of running the business side of food, while we ourselves and the general population are so time compressed but still desire convenient good food. So, we decided to launch a platform store to connect local talented chefs with busy professionals and families. We’re only 3 months in and we’re already selling at 80-100 mealboxes a day. The community loves the chefs’ meals and the chefs are all very happy with the additional income we bring them. We’re all very happy so far.

Check out the meals and chefs we have so far at this site: https://www.eatchefbox.com/menuandchefs/

A very great news article that came out recently: https://www.pasadenastarnews.com/2017/11/30/the-people-behind-626-night-market-now-selling-chef-made-foodie-boxes-in-south-pasadena/

About the Founders
Albert Chu ran the Special Projects and Operations divisions of the 626 Night Market for 3 years, designing and building memorable landmarks that gave customers various meeting focal points and photo opportunities. These special projects include Lantern Lanes draped above the event fairgrounds, an 8’x8’ 626 Night Market branded cube at the entrance of every Night Market, dozens of free-standing walls used for mural art battles, and the World’s Largest Cup of Boba Tea. He also worked with Patricia to standardize marketplace operations with training manuals for the section managers, maintaining excellence in event operations after his departure in July 2014. While he was working with the Night Market, he was part of a full-time leadership development program at Baxter Pharmaceuticals, where his various projects streamlined operations in numerous functions and won global excellence awards. He learned to organize large data sets, simplify complex problems into clear, concise solutions, and translate his experience across different functions to continually strengthen his foundation. He has experience in handling simultaneous workloads by balancing a corporate, full-time pharmaceutical engineering job with a start-up leadership position at the 626 Night Market. He seeks to constantly evolve his skill set with ambitious projects and exponential growth, and is ready for his next venture.

Patricia Huang runs the largest summer night food festival in the USA as “Live Marketplace and Vendor Management” of 626 Night Market for 6 years to date, managing market economics and logistics of 200 vendor booths per event, curating menu items across all events and working closely and supporting chefs during their startup. With her unique experience and knowledge in managing vendors and entrepreneurship within the massive (100,000 customers per event) events, she created a guidebook “Selling at Events and Festivals: An Insider’s Guide from Top Veterans” to further help the chefs and small entrepreneurs succeed in the events space. She has the ability to scout, recruit and manage chefs on a large-scale basis, curate popular menu items, as well as leverage her vast network of chef relationships built up over the years. She has previous startup experience as well, being a major driver for the explosive growth of the 626 Night Market as well as many other projects. Together with Albert, she had co-spearheaded and broke the world record for World’s Largest Cup of Boba Tea, which news coverage reached as far as China and Taiwan.

Has it been a smooth road?
The learning curve for sure! This is our first full-on venture out with a unique concept in the great business wild but we are learning as fast as we can and hopefully be able to prove the concept and start rolling out to more locations.

The biggest struggle we faced so far was when we signed the store lease right when Patricia gave birth to her first child and the night market season started last year – all at the same time. Balancing everything was definitely a challenge but we pulled through and launched ChefBox right after the 626 Night Market season concluded for the year.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the ChefBox story. Tell us more about the business.
We’re a never-been-done before food retail concept. First of our kind. Think grab and go meal prep store by 17 local chefs and 50+ meal varieties on rotation.
Here’s a quick and dirty press release covering on all the main points:
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/56dccfcc2fe1312eff2d075f/t/5a1cc0cc8165f542d6f36a4b/1511833804887/ChefBoxPressRelease.pdf

What makes us the happiest is the close relationships we have with our partnered chefs. They’re all so amazing in what they do. It’s an honor and joy for us to provide something valuable to them and help them become more profitable. What also make us very happy is seeing customer’s eyes light up as they walk in and realize they can grab any mealbox they want conveniently. And, when they come back gushing about the meal they just had. When we pass the compliments back to the chefs, it makes them very happy too. It’s a happy food fest here everyday.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
We as a society is becoming more and more compressed on time. Many of us don’t even have the time to cook anymore. At the same time, we’re also losing touch with the home kitchen and cooking meals for ourselves. There’s usually the tradition of one generation passing down the lessons of food and cooking to the next generation but I think we’re breaking from that. We simply don’t have as much time to cook anymore.
The DESIRE to be close to food and cooking has not gone away though. That’s why we love cooking shows and content so much. We miss it.

Convenient food is the current trend, like meal prep and delivery companies (Munchery, Blue Apron, etc.) and fast casual restaurants.

Pricing:

  • The mealboxes are single serving and range from $8~$14 depending on dish and chef
  • Most dishes are around $10-$12

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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