Rego Park resident Tina Gu has turned her love of cooking into a career by preparing and selling her homemade dishes on the online food marketplace Shef. Most of her available dishes trace back to her family’s cultural and historical background in China, Guam and Japan.
Gu was born in Shanghai, China, to a family of chefs before studying hospitality in Switzerland. According to Gu, most of her recipes were taught to her by her parents and grandparents, as well as her husband and people she has worked with in the past. However, she brings originality to them by adding her own personal touches and twists. Her curated menu of Japanese, Guamanian and Chinese dishes infuse family teachings and various cultures into each made-to-order dish.
“Growing up in a family of chefs, I was always fascinated by the food around me prepared by my grandparents and my parents,” Gu said. “It always gave me a feeling of pleasure, happiness and joy that fueled my passion for food.”
She became attracted to cooking for Shef through her love of cooking and sharing it with others. According to Gu, Shef is a fantastic platform for people to share their love and passion for cooking with others. She also cited the diversity and support for various cultures as a contributing factor that led her to join Shef.
One of Gu’s most popular dishes is the braised chashu pork bowl. This dish is made with slow-cooked pork belly with a combination of Chinese and Japanese herbs and spices. Another popular dish of hers is chicken kelaguen, a national dish from the island of Guam, a Chamorro traditional cuisine difficult to come across even in New York City. It is made with roasted chicken, fresh vegetables and spices with a side of a buttery pancake called paratha.
Gu also isn’t afraid to add more dishes to her repertoire. Two of her new dishes, handmade wontons and dumplings, have quickly become some of her most popular dishes. These traditional Chinese dishes are both made with fresh ground pork, herbs and fresh vegetables.
“Whether you are a professional chef or a home cook, Shef is a great way to pursue your dreams,” Gu said. “My goal is to open up my own restaurant business in the near future!”
Both Gu and her husband served in the U.S. Army National Guard in Guam before moving to Boston when their contracts ended. In 2016, they moved to Rego Park due to work needs and now enjoy the area.
Co-founded by first-generation Americans Alvin Salehi and Joey Grassia, Shef is an online marketplace for local, food safety-certified cooks to connect with customers in their community and earn a meaningful income selling homemade dishes. There is a very diverse background among the cooks. Approximately 96 countries are represented in the marketplace, with 80% of the cooks being people of color and 75% being women.