New York Made Me
Honoring the Past, Building the Future in NYC’s AAPI Community
What does supporting Local mean in New York? For a city built on transplants with hopes and dreams, it means supporting community initiatives, music, and food and beverage, and how they’re all connected.
In these Whole Story videos, hosted by Nguyen Coffee Supply founder Sahra Nguyen, we see how Whole Foods Market’s support of local brands extends and connects to NYC’S AAPI community and its spirit.
“Whole Foods is often hailed as a leader in the industry. And I think what makes that really special is Whole Foods Market’s ability to spot emerging brands that are not just delicious and healthy and special, but also have such a rich cultural story.”
Sahra Nguyen, Founder and CEO, Nguyen Coffee Supply
Our host — Sahra Nguyen, founder of Nguyen Coffee Supply and first generation Vietnamese American
Sahra Nguyen is founder and CEO of Nguyen Coffee Supply. Her parents came to America as refugees of the Vietnam War. After college, Nguyen moved to New York and worked as a freelance producer before discovering her passion for coffee and founding Nguyen Coffee Company. The company is America’s first specialty Vietnamese coffee company, championing the robusta bean which is natively grown in Vietnam.
Sahra Nguyen serves as our bridge between Whole Foods Market and the community that is NYC. Through her personal relationships with retailers, small business owners, and Whole Foods Market, we’re able to gain a more exclusive look into what makes this community tick.
Part 1: ‘What is Local?’ Conversation with John Lawson, Whole Foods Market Senior Principal Forager
“For a lot of immigrant children, you had the moment in elementary school, you’re bringing mom’s pack lunch and kids around you are, like, oh, what is that, or like, what’s that smell? Like kind of judging what you’re bringing to school. That’s what a lot of first generation immigrants call the lunchbox moment. And we’re trying to do something with Lunar where it’s the reverse, where you’re proud to be seen drinking a product that’s very unapologetically Asian American, right, that you’re proud to share with your friends.“
Kevin Wong, Co-Founder, Lunar Hard Seltzer
Home Brewing with Lunar Hard Seltzer
The idea of Lunar Hard Seltzer started over a meal of some Korean barbecue. Kevin Wong and Sean Ro ate and wondered why there wasn’t an Asian drink to match the food. From that conversation, Lunar Hard Seltzer was born, bringing in flavors from Wong’s and Ro’s childhoods and creating their own narrative.
Part 2: Home Brewing with Lunar Hard Seltzer
“Our parents all came around in the ’60s and the ’70s as immigrants here. We wanted to pay honor to our community, pay honor to everything we know about our culture but also say hey yo, this is who we are, we were born here, you know. We have to continue the energy, whether it be different, slightly different or evolved. And I’ll love my son to be a regular Chinatown and know the community and know the language, and know his culture, and know where he comes from, you know.“
Cory Ng, Co-Founder, Potluck Club
Welcome to Chinatown
The nonprofit Welcome to Chinatown was born during the middle of the pandemic. Restaurants and other local businesses had shuttered, calling into question the future of longtime establishments in Chinatown.
Vic Lee and Jennifer Tam started Welcome to Chinatown to help businesses during the pandemic and have now transitioned to helping businesses modernize as the landscape of New York continues to change.
Lunar Hard Seltzer, Potluck Club, and other AAPI-owned businesses have been advocates of theirs and other community causes, all aiding in creating a bridge between generations in Chinatown.
Part 3: Welcome To Chinatown
“We haven’t had a Chinese rapper or artist win at Grammys because we don’t have that person yet. Think about how long it took for a black artist to win an Oscar or Grammy. It wasn’t that they weren’t dope. The structure just wasn’t set up for them, you know, and they had to fight a long time and get people familiarized with their face and story enough, so that they’re like now you’re part of the lexicon.“
Bohan Phoenix — Chinese American Rapper
Bohan Leng was born in Yichang, China, to a single mother. He was raised for a few years by his grandparents while his mother searched for work, eventually bringing them both to Boston. At age 11, Leng began learning English by watching television. When he came across the movie “8 Mile,” he instantly fell in love with hip-hop and the frame it gave him to tell his story.
Bohan Leng would soon become Bohan Phoenix, a Chinese-American performance artist who weaves among cultures, finding his own narrative within NYC’s AAPI community.