Now through Tuesday, May 31, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is in full swing, including in the City of Brotherly Love. And at the helm of some meaningful events regarding this time of commemoration is Ellen Yin.
A well-known hospitality veteran in the city and the founder and co-owner of High Street Hospitality Group, Yin’s influence stretches around Philly through some of her acclaimed restaurants (Fork, High Street Philly and a.kitchen+bar) and the neighborhood cafe and eatery, High Street Provisions. But the culinary connoisseur also has had her hand in many social efforts, showing that her impact makes waves outside of the kitchen.
One of those past involvements was with Let’s Talk, a national contingency of female independent restaurant operators who work collectively to provide and amplify industry-wide tools and resources. Another, Women Changing the City, focused on a series of noteworthy panels featuring accomplished women from the business community. Yin also worked on an event with the Wharton Women of business (her alma mater) collaborating with the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs and with The Walnut Club, which is a networking group for women.
But more recently, in April of 2021, Yin decided to launch The Wonton Project through her Hospitality Group. At the time of conception, the idea acted as a pop-up ghost kitchen concept operating out of HSHG’s flagship, Fork, delivering freshly-made wontons to Philadelphians. And the idea lives on in 2022.
The Wonton Project was born after an emotionally-charged nationwide outcry following the March 2021 events at an Atlanta spa. A gunman entered into the building, opened fire, killing eight people, six of whom were Asian women.
Those events accumulated into a new initiative, #doughsomething, a national campaign to help promote a fair and equitable society for all. As a previous release states, the campaign was designed for chefs to create dough-based dishes with proceeds donated to organizations that advocate for civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities. Working alongside the #doughsomething campaign, Yin decided that proceeds from The Wonton Project would benefit Asian Americans United and Asian Americans Advancing Justice directly.
The Project also marked Yin’s first journey into the traditional cuisine of her Chinese heritage by using her mother’s recipes. And to date, the efforts of this initiative have donated over $13,000 to AAPI causes in their one year (and counting) of operation.
The initiative continued through this past weekend, when Yin’s group popped up at Franklin’s Table on UPenn’s campus. Rooted in those homestyle recipes, the menu featured steamed pork and shrimp wontons, steamed chicken and ginger wontons, and fried pork and shrimp wontons, along with some special menu items.
The efforts continue later this month as well on May 22 with the “Wonton & Friends Bite Market” at Sor Ynez’s outdoor garden space from 4 to 7 p.m. Meant to showcase some of Philadelphia’s extensive AAPI food concepts as well, other food venues— including Kalaya, Tabachoy and Hardena—will be posting up as vendors selling and displaying their dish of choice, while also donating a portion of proceeds to SEAMAAC. Philadelphians who head to the pop-up will also be able to check out complimentary beverages and refreshments to go along with dishes.
Other venues participating this month include Dimmie Sum, Gabriella’s Vietnam, Emei, Angie’s Vietnamese Cuisine, and Sate Kampar.
If you can’t make it out on May 22 however, don’t sweat it. The Wonton Project (and The Wonton Project West) deliver 5-6 days a week. Check their website for hours and a full schedule. Or, those who live outside of the delivery area can try their luck through DoorDash/Caviar.
Metro is one of more than 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on economic mobility. Read more at brokeinphilly.org or follow on Twitter at @BrokeInPhilly.