MáLà Project, New York
CHEF & OWNER AMELIE KANG’S STORY
Ning (Amelie) Kang developed her love for original Chinese home cooking beside her grandmother’s wok stove. Being a firm believer in “find something you love, and never work a day,” Amelie went against the mainstream and chose to turn her passion for food into a profession at the Culinary Institute of America. After graduation, Amelie went through every position in restaurant operations, including line-cook at Michelin Star chef Daniel Boulud’s restaurant, bartender at B Flat, and General Manager at China Blue, etc. To her surprise, she discovered that despite New York City being a gastronomy heaven, it had few Chinese restaurants that demonstrated her home cuisine to the fullest. Eager to find familiar flavors of her childhood 6,000 miles away from her home, she decided to open her own restaurant to define what she had been searching for.
At the age of 24, she opened the first location of MáLà Project in East Village, focused on reviving the childhood memory of the food and surroundings that her generation had grown up with back home. She wanted to influence the way people ate and interacted with one another through her restaurant concept. Besides representing her hometown cuisine at MáLà Project, Amelie is also determined to create a workplace where restaurant workers can build their lives upon.
The number one focus for Amelie is her employees’ advancement and fulfillment. She prioritizes employee training, culture building, and staﬀ advancement. She strives to build restaurants for her staﬀ, then her customers. This philosophy has ensured that the staﬀ retention rate is high above the industry average, and among the few employees who did move on, most of them have come back to MáLà Project team.
On February 2018, Amelie and her team opened a second location of MáLà Project in midtown, and the first location of Chubby Princess, a chic Chinese bistro offering noodles, dumplings, and other authentic Chinese home-cooking in the Financial District. Recognized for her talent and dedication to the hospitality industry, and as a pioneer whose success story has led to the most recent wave of new Chinese restaurants in East Village, Amelie was awarded Eater’s Young Guns 2018 alongside two other chef/owners in New York, Forbes 30 Under 30 2020, and Eater New Guard of New York.
122 1st Ave
New York, NY 10009
Q&A WITH AMELIE KANG
Story Plate: What are your top three go-to restaurants in your hometown (NYC)?
Amelie Kang: Hometown as in Beijing or New York? If New York it changes all the time but currently: Le crocodile, Kopitiam, King.
SP: What’s a must-have or your favorite kitchen item and why?
AK: Spatula; so handy and keeps your station clean.
SP: What is your favorite thing that you like to cook for yourself at home and why?
AK: Fried rice; it’s simple and comforting, and I can use whatever leftovers I have in the fridge to put in the fried rice.
SP: If you didn’t choose to go down this career path, what would plan B have been for you?
AK: A psychologist.
SP: How do you manage stress, what advice can you give your fellow girl bosses?
AK: When we live in a world full of uncertainties, stress is actually something you have full control of. It may be caused by outside factors, but we have complete power to manage it. Sometimes a healthy dose of stress is helpful to keep us on our toes. When it gets overwhelming, break things down into small pieces and tackle each thing one at a time. If it’s really bad, I personally just put everything down and take a super lazy day and try to reset the next day.