Chef Tracy Chang Gives Back To The Community Through The Language Of Food

Restaurateur Tracy Chang started the nonprofit Off Their Plate and Project Restore Us through the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. 

The owner of the Japanese tapas restaurant,  PAGU, started Off Their Plate as a way to feed healthcare workers, and Project Restore Us sends nutritious and culturally appropriate grocery boxes to families living in food deserts. Both groups work to support local kitchens run by women and BIPOC and volunteers.

As a chef, Tracy also finds herself more in tune with customers than ever before. As someone who grew up lactose intolerant, she sources ingredients responsibly and remains mindful of the way guests feel after they leave her restaurant. This is also part of her restaurant’s ethos.

Her grandmother has also influenced Tracy’s cooking. Although her grandmother didn’t speak English, she spoke the language of food really well, said Tracy, and that was something that always resonated with her.

For Tracy, her personal experience has definitely come into play — trained in Spain but worked at a Japanese restaurant, and she grew up with a lot of Japanese and Taiwanese food, “The menu at PAGU is autobiographical and about my experience learning very specific dishes and techniques from people like my grandmother, my mentor and some of the chefs I’ve worked with.” she told TimeOut.