Rooted Fare Uses Food to Connect Asian and American Cultures

The company recently launched new holiday offerings of its flagship product Black Sesame Crunchy Butter.

Written by Ashley Bowden
Published on Dec. 08, 2022
Rooted Fare Uses Food to Connect Asian and American Cultures
Rooted Fare’s co-founders Hedy Yu and Ashley Xie enjoy spoonfuls of Black Sesame Crunchy Butter
Rooted Fare’s co-founders Ashley Xie (left) and Hedy Yu (right). | Photo: Rooted Fare

Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.

In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In has launched The Future 5 across eight major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. You can check out last quarter’s Los Angeles round-up here.

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Adolescence is a wild ride for most of us, from wandering through school hallways in an outfit we hope looks cool to learning to balance who we are with how others perceive us. For childhood friends Ashley Xie and Hedy Yu, this period was uniquely challenging as they explored how to nurture their Chinese heritage while maintaining their American lifestyles.

Xie and Yu are both daughters of immigrants who grew up in Southern California. As second-generation Chinese Americans, the pair had vastly different experiences at home compared to at school. Among family, they would speak Mandarin and enjoy traditional Chinese dishes such as tangyuan, a glutinous rice ball with sweet filling; Among classmates, they spoke English and ate things like chocolate chip cookies.

“The Chinese and American parts of ourselves felt very separated growing up and in an effort to be ‘American’ enough, we sometimes distanced ourselves from our Chinese selves,” Yu told Built In via email. “As adults, we found ourselves trying to fuse the two and what better way to do that than through food? We wanted to beautifully fuse the two to create something delicious and unique that helps us remember our roots every day.

Their desire to blend nostalgic and traditional flavors led to the creation of food startup Rooted Fare and the company’s Black Sesame Crunchy Butter, a food that combines the flavor of black sesame tangyuan filling with the spreadability and texture of peanut butter. The product is currently available on the company’s e-commerce site where consumers can buy individual jars or retailers can purchase shipments wholesale.

We wanted to beautifully fuse the two to create something delicious and unique that helps us remember our roots every day. 

Almost 50 specialty stores distribute Rooted Fare’s solution and about 20 of these locations are based in Los Angeles. Some retailers include Yoboseyo! in Little Tokyo and Cookbook Market in Highland Park.

Having grown its reach to this extent, Rooted Fare has come a long way since its original form as a multicultural sauce business. The co-founders attribute that growth to those who’ve supported the evolving venture along the way. 

“Rooted Fare started during the pandemic as a different business ... but we’ve always been focused on the product and experience,” Yu said. “We want [our food] to feel homey and playful while being absurdly delicious. We’ve been lucky to have a very supportive community that’s been with us every step of the way, offering their encouragement and feedback.”

As the startup continues to grow, Rooted Fare recently launched new offerings. The company is offering limited holiday specials for consumers, such as a trio of miniature jars of its flagship product and a recipe booklet crafted with the Subtle Asian Baking group that incorporates Black Sesame Crunchy Butter, Yu said.

Rooted Fare also has a new concept in the works for Lunar New Year that it’ll announce at the start of 2023.

“We’ll see Rooted Fare as a huge success once we fulfill our mission of helping all Chinese Americans and Asian Americans feel more connected and creative after having our products,” Yu said. “We’re excited to build until we’re a well-known and loved household brand.” 

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