Most of time when I tell people I have two children, they look surprised. "You look too young to be a mother," I've often heard. Some people even ask me, "Have you ever been married?" Even though I may look too young to be a divorcee with two children, and I don't belong with the single crowd, either. When my single friends go to the bar after dinner, it's often the time I am at home sending my children to bed. I then scrub the kitchen, plan classes for work, and write emails for marketing. Among all of my friends, I was the first to get married, and the first to get divorced.
I am not writing this blog as an authority to teach you how to be successful. In terms of cooking/baking and parenting, there is still so much for me to learn. Fortunately, I somehow manage to take care of both children, work, and pay the bills with no family to help here in US. I have learned some lessons to survive. And I hope this will be inspiring for you.
The more stuff I have at home, the more stuff I have to organize. I rent a small, two- bedroom apartment. I want space for my children to play so I don't have much furniture. I hardly buy any toys for my children. They are never bored at home. They have a chore board. They sometimes help out washing laundry, watering plants, drying dishes. We also cook and bake together. Pasta starts from two eggs, flour and EVOO. We make it from scratch. My Vitamix, Kitchen-aid Mixer and Breville food processor are their toys. Happiness can be very simple. Simple life is easy to manage.
Keep Advancing Yourself
Whenever there is a good workshop or relevant food and wine seminar, I always try to be there. I also took some business classes at Boston University and Emerson University. I do not have time to read books other than recipes, but I still want myself to grow not just in the area of food and wine. I listen to audio books when I work out or drive. Good books often inspire me, either as a chef instructor or as a mother, or an entrepreneur. I try to listen to one book per week. I also need to know what's happening in the food industry, and yet I don't have time to read newspaper. I listen to Food Republic on podcast. It keeps me updated about the food trends. I highly recommend Food Republic. Listening to Food Republic, you will hear many chefs share their behind-the-scenes stories and get inspired about where to eat or what to cook. Must listen if you're a foodie!
I try not to spend too much time texting or on social media. I only spend quality time with my children and close friends. I like to have a good conversation and enjoy good friends' company. I never go out with a bunch of friends I don't know well to just to chill and drink. Having conversations with people I don't know well takes so much energy and is waste of my time.
Even though my small chef-instructor business is most of time a one woman show, this show would not run without many professionals' help. I didn't know how to build a website, and I was totally clueless about how to manage my social media. I noticed suddenly many friends uploading videos of actions back and forth, but I didn't understand why, until one day I discovered how to use Boomerang. Fortunately, I found a marketing company called ThriveHive. They helped me build my custom website, and I have a marketing coach to guide me. My marketing coach, Melissa, has been very helpful. She taught me how to use social media to create a buzz and get more students to sign up my classes. She also has great insights in terms of how to boost the SEO and keep browsers engaged in my website.
Many clients and friends love my brand name "Cooking Beautiful Lee." I worked with an extremely talented writer CJ Kaplan. He helped me to come out with twenty brand names. Running my own business has been a journey, and it has been fun and rewarding because I have got so many amazing teammates down the road.
When I look back, there were so many difficulties I thought I could never overcome. There were many goals I thought were impossible to achieve. I have witnessed how my life improved after I made the changes above. I hope you can start this new year with some positive changes, heading you to sunshine and happiness!
Join Our Community at Patreon
Perks for Friends of Food Patrons only:
Friends of Food is a digital members-only community designed to empower and connect food folks alike.
- Invitation to private community & food folk directory
- Access to a highly vetted network of Chefs
- One hour Zoom cooking lesson once a month
- Cookbook club + happy hour once a month
- 30 mins cooking consultation
- E-mail us your cooking questions and we will get back to you with our best answer within a week.
- Polls (Help us choose a topic for an upcoming video + more!)
- Behind-the-scenes / Bloopers
- Exclusive perks from brand partners
Chief Entertainment Officer
Melissa is 100% MIT (Made in Taiwan), where she worked as a food writer. She’s also worked alongside renowned chefs like Ming Tsai and Joanne Chang, honing her craft and gathering stories along the way. Part story-teller, part educator, and part food lover, Melissa brings a special blend of experience, skill, and enthusiasm to her work. She blends her Asian background, her new home of New England, and love of food and culture to bring joy, optimism, and inspiration to food lovers and fun-seekers everywhere.
What sparked your passion for the industry?
The desire to make things by hand. The joy of sharing delicious, hearty food with students. The opportunity for people to get connected via cooking and baking. When a child smiled broadly and told me it’s the best scone he has ever made and eaten, it really made my day!
In your opinion, what’s the most important course?
Well, I usually take a peek at the wine list first. I like tapas style, so the course doesn’t really matter. Cheese and charcuterie are always a good place to start. And since I’m a pastry chef, there is always room for dessert!
Bill Gates is picking up your tab, where would you go?