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{"id":1030115754031,"title":"Aska Tse, the INCREDIBLE Gluten-free Baker in Hong Kong","handle":"aska-tse-the-incredible-gluten-free-baker-in-honk-kong","description":"\u003ch3\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #3d85c6;\"\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.instagram.com\/glutenfreeglobalicious\/\" target=\"_blank\" rel=\"noopener noreferrer\" style=\"color: #3d85c6;\"\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eBy Lori Miller\u003c\/strong\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h3\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\n\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eGFG MAG: How long have you been baking gluten-free? Is this a hobby or a \u003c\/strong\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003cstrong\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003ebusiness?\u003c\/span\u003e \u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e\n\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: I have been baking gluten-free (and dairy-free) for almost two years since 2016. My husband bought me a bread machine and a gluten-free bread recipe book – that was how I started. My objective at that time was mainly to deal with hunger. I move on from a survivor to a fighter – to make tasty, nutritious baked goods all from scratch for my health. Currently, I'm gluten-free baking as a hobby. Recently my little girl was diagnosed with a chronic health problem. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I will nourish her so she can get better. In the meantime, I will utilize this time to develop my skills and create new recipes. It is my dream to open a bakery\/cafe where people can enjoy the freedom of worry-free food!\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/IMG_0253_large.JPG?v=1543707898\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG MAG: Is your kitchen\/bakery 100% dedicated gluten-free?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: Unfortunately, my kitchen is only 99.9% gluten-free because my family loves their gluten-loaded snacks. Fortunately, I am the household operation manager aka “mom,” who in charges all the grocery shopping, meal plans, and cooking. We have two sets of kitchenware to set apart gluten-free and gluten-full needs, and two separate dish sponges too. In this way, my family can enjoy their snacks in other areas such as the dining room, and let my kitchen be untouched by gluten and dairy. It did take some time for my family to adapt to this new practice, especially for my little girl. It is a learning process in which mistakes are unavoidable. But I am glad they picked up quickly. Now my girl often tells me what to eat and what not to eat. She will also ask the server for the gluten-free menu at restaurants.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG Mag: What made you decide to start creating gluten-free bread?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: Bread is always the love of my life. It’s my staple food even though I am an Asian. I ate bread\/pastries more than rice for breakfast, lunch, and snack almost daily since my childhood. Baking gluten-free pastries is a journey to the past, bringing back my childhood memory into something I can smell and taste. The second reason is that baking (bread) itself is like magic. The transformation from a few ingredients into something so different and so wonderful always fascinates me. Fermentation is the cooperation between human and nature – we seek help from the microbe community, interact with the levain, dig our hands into the dough, and keep the starter as a pet. That’s why many people name their starters. Mine are named Hana Noir (mother) and Levi (son). Baking gluten-free is indeed challenging due to a multiplicity of gluten-free flours. Resources are limited, but that is the fun part too. No one studied gluten-free bread\/pastries in the past as we do right now. All gluten-free bakers are writing history. It is my honor to be one of the pioneers.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e \u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/IMG_0907_large.JPG?v=1543708016\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG MAG: Do you live a gluten-free life?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: Yes, I am 100% gluten-free and dairy-free. It was not easy, but it’s worthy. It’s just like running; your legs might be sore for days and the idea of giving up haunts you every day. But soon, your body starts picking up. You build up your muscle memory, you can finally enjoy the fresh breeze in your face. It doesn’t mean you won’t feel tired, but the tiredness and soreness just become more manageable. I sought for packaged food and always ate out when I started being gluten-free in 2012. Eventually, I had a weight issue due to the high sugar and fats in prepared gluten-free food. The only way to eat healthily was to cooking for me and my family. I started cooking at age 32 with zero culinary training. I still remember I prepared a Chinese dish by using a table knife to slice raw steak! Now my family loves my cooking, for I know how to bring the flavor of fresh, good quality of ingredients with mix and match of herbs. My most recent creation is pan-fried chicken with sage and Chinese green onion sauce and pumpkin soup added with cashew and peanut. They are so good that everyone should try these!\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG MAG: When you first started baking and cooking gluten-free, what were the reactions from your friends and family?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: Actually, they did find my gluten-free baked goods tasty at first, like cakes, muffins, and sandwich loaves. I followed recipes which used lots of sugar, oils, and eggs to make them taste better. Then one day a friend told me the bread I baked was like a sandwich-like crumbly cake, it was good to eat by itself, but it was not good for making a sandwich. Suddenly I realize the missing piece: the grains. The best bread should bring out the best of the fermented grains – aroma, flavor, and nutrients. Since then I keep working on gluten-free sourdough, using only flour, water, salt, levain, and binder (to mimic gluten) – the healthiest bread that people can eat every day in every meal.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/IMG_1046_large.JPG?v=1543708088\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG MAG: What are your most popular gluten-free creations?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: Gluten-free vegan sourdough bread indeed. My friends love my matcha muffins filled with sweet red bean and the lemon cream pie. And my little one likes the creamy cake roll and Christmas gingerbread man (so she helps me to decorate).\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG Mag: What is the best part of baking gluten-free goods for people?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #000000;\"\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: The joy of sharing my baked goods with others who have Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance, overflows in my heart. The food becomes the bridge between two individuals. Whenever they told me they are eating “real” food, both tasty and nourishing, my mission is complete. I also take serious thought about their well-being. I am the “giver” who initially offers the food, but in the end, I become the “receiver” who is touched by their laughs and tears. They amuse me with stories of how far a father\/mother will go for their children, how deep a husband loves his wife, and how the community helps each other.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG Mag: Do you sell your gluten-free baked goods anywhere?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: I do not sell my baked goods yet. Hopefully, in a year or two later when my daughter's condition gets better, I can start my business.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/IMG_0203_large.JPG?v=1543707937\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003e GFG Mag: What is the gluten-free scene in Hong Kong? \u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #000000;\"\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: While eczema and gut problems are the common discomforts many people have, possibly due to the high exposure to a Western diet, Celiac or gluten intolerance is rarely spoken about in the Hong Kong media. Perhaps the missing link between these two is a proper diagnosis. Gluten-free life is still new to Hong Kong, but the community is growing. Imported gluten-free food costs a fortune. Sadly, there are only around two 100% gluten-free cafes available, and there are lots of work to do on educating chefs and restaurant owners how to prepare safe gluten-free meals as well. Since cross-contamination is a big problem when eating out in Hong Kong, meal prep and a well-stocked cabinet are usually my best resort when I am on the go.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #000000;\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG Mag: What do you enjoy doing on your day off?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: If I don’t go out to enjoy the sun with my family, it sounds nerdy, but I always watch food and cooking shows like “Chef’s Table” and “City Bakes,” listen to the broadcast “Modernist Breadcrumb,” or read books about food. There is so much knowledge out there but so little time to spend learning everything! My family approves my obsession for it is beneficial to them as well. (I have an adorable little helper too) I want to set an example for my little girl that taking care of the food we eat is the best thing we can do for ourselves.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #000000;\"\u003e\u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/IMG_9935_large.JPG?v=1543708389\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #000000;\"\u003e\u003cbr\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG Mag: What is your favorite cuisine?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #000000;\"\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: That’s a tough question. I adore the cultural character of many cuisines, such as the complexity of Thai herbs, the vibrancy of Mexican tacos, the exoticness of Indian curry, the freshness of Italian ingredients and the preciseness of Japanese culinary skill. I’m not a picky eater. I welcome all kinds of food as a pathway to foreign cultures if it is gluten-free and dairy-free. Probably because I was raised in a multicultural city where “East meets West,” and I stayed a few years in Houston, Texas, I learned about many different customs and beliefs. These life-changing experiences create what I am now, and I am definitely not a stranger to fusion cuisines.\u003cbr\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #000000;\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG Mag: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003cbr\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #000000;\"\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: I am lucky to live in the era in which information is easily accessible (Thanks to the internet!). I’ve learned a lot from many sourdough bakers globally, both “gluten-loaded” and gluten-free, home enthusiasts and professionals. Success is not a one-person show. I give credits to all of them for helping and supporting me.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #000000;\"\u003eTo keep up with \u003cstrong\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.instagram.com\/worryfreebakes\/\" target=\"_blank\" rel=\"noopener noreferrer\"\u003eAska Tse\u003c\/a\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e and her glorious gluten-free and dairy-free artisan creations, follow her on Instagram!\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch4\u003e\u003cstrong\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e\u003c\/h4\u003e","published_at":"2018-12-01T15:24:54-08:00","created_at":"2018-12-01T15:27:31-08:00","vendor":"GlutenfreeGlobalicious Magazine","type":"Spotlight Interview","tags":["Easy Gluten-free Recipes","GF Nutrition","Gluten-free","Gluten-free Food","Gluten-free Foodies","Gluten-free Health","Gluten-free Hong Kong","Gluten-free Hotels","Gluten-free Recipes","Gluten-free Travel","GlutenfreeGlobalicious","GlutenfreeGlobalicious Interviews","GlutenfreeGlobalicious Magazine"],"price":0,"price_min":0,"price_max":0,"available":true,"price_varies":false,"compare_at_price":0,"compare_at_price_min":0,"compare_at_price_max":0,"compare_at_price_varies":false,"variants":[{"id":9805596098607,"title":"Default Title","option1":"Default Title","option2":null,"option3":null,"sku":"","requires_shipping":true,"taxable":true,"featured_image":null,"available":true,"name":"Aska Tse, the INCREDIBLE Gluten-free Baker in Hong Kong","public_title":null,"options":["Default Title"],"price":0,"weight":0,"compare_at_price":0,"inventory_management":"shopify","barcode":""}],"images":["\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/products\/Aska_Bread2.jpg?v=1543963995"],"featured_image":"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/products\/Aska_Bread2.jpg?v=1543963995","options":["Title"],"content":"\u003ch3\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #3d85c6;\"\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.instagram.com\/glutenfreeglobalicious\/\" target=\"_blank\" rel=\"noopener noreferrer\" style=\"color: #3d85c6;\"\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eBy Lori Miller\u003c\/strong\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h3\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\n\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eGFG MAG: How long have you been baking gluten-free? Is this a hobby or a \u003c\/strong\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003cstrong\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #ff0000;\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003ebusiness?\u003c\/span\u003e \u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e\n\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: I have been baking gluten-free (and dairy-free) for almost two years since 2016. My husband bought me a bread machine and a gluten-free bread recipe book – that was how I started. My objective at that time was mainly to deal with hunger. I move on from a survivor to a fighter – to make tasty, nutritious baked goods all from scratch for my health. Currently, I'm gluten-free baking as a hobby. Recently my little girl was diagnosed with a chronic health problem. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I will nourish her so she can get better. In the meantime, I will utilize this time to develop my skills and create new recipes. It is my dream to open a bakery\/cafe where people can enjoy the freedom of worry-free food!\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/IMG_0253_large.JPG?v=1543707898\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG MAG: Is your kitchen\/bakery 100% dedicated gluten-free?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: Unfortunately, my kitchen is only 99.9% gluten-free because my family loves their gluten-loaded snacks. Fortunately, I am the household operation manager aka “mom,” who in charges all the grocery shopping, meal plans, and cooking. We have two sets of kitchenware to set apart gluten-free and gluten-full needs, and two separate dish sponges too. In this way, my family can enjoy their snacks in other areas such as the dining room, and let my kitchen be untouched by gluten and dairy. It did take some time for my family to adapt to this new practice, especially for my little girl. It is a learning process in which mistakes are unavoidable. But I am glad they picked up quickly. Now my girl often tells me what to eat and what not to eat. She will also ask the server for the gluten-free menu at restaurants.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG Mag: What made you decide to start creating gluten-free bread?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: Bread is always the love of my life. It’s my staple food even though I am an Asian. I ate bread\/pastries more than rice for breakfast, lunch, and snack almost daily since my childhood. Baking gluten-free pastries is a journey to the past, bringing back my childhood memory into something I can smell and taste. The second reason is that baking (bread) itself is like magic. The transformation from a few ingredients into something so different and so wonderful always fascinates me. Fermentation is the cooperation between human and nature – we seek help from the microbe community, interact with the levain, dig our hands into the dough, and keep the starter as a pet. That’s why many people name their starters. Mine are named Hana Noir (mother) and Levi (son). Baking gluten-free is indeed challenging due to a multiplicity of gluten-free flours. Resources are limited, but that is the fun part too. No one studied gluten-free bread\/pastries in the past as we do right now. All gluten-free bakers are writing history. It is my honor to be one of the pioneers.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e \u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/IMG_0907_large.JPG?v=1543708016\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG MAG: Do you live a gluten-free life?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: Yes, I am 100% gluten-free and dairy-free. It was not easy, but it’s worthy. It’s just like running; your legs might be sore for days and the idea of giving up haunts you every day. But soon, your body starts picking up. You build up your muscle memory, you can finally enjoy the fresh breeze in your face. It doesn’t mean you won’t feel tired, but the tiredness and soreness just become more manageable. I sought for packaged food and always ate out when I started being gluten-free in 2012. Eventually, I had a weight issue due to the high sugar and fats in prepared gluten-free food. The only way to eat healthily was to cooking for me and my family. I started cooking at age 32 with zero culinary training. I still remember I prepared a Chinese dish by using a table knife to slice raw steak! Now my family loves my cooking, for I know how to bring the flavor of fresh, good quality of ingredients with mix and match of herbs. My most recent creation is pan-fried chicken with sage and Chinese green onion sauce and pumpkin soup added with cashew and peanut. They are so good that everyone should try these!\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG MAG: When you first started baking and cooking gluten-free, what were the reactions from your friends and family?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: Actually, they did find my gluten-free baked goods tasty at first, like cakes, muffins, and sandwich loaves. I followed recipes which used lots of sugar, oils, and eggs to make them taste better. Then one day a friend told me the bread I baked was like a sandwich-like crumbly cake, it was good to eat by itself, but it was not good for making a sandwich. Suddenly I realize the missing piece: the grains. The best bread should bring out the best of the fermented grains – aroma, flavor, and nutrients. Since then I keep working on gluten-free sourdough, using only flour, water, salt, levain, and binder (to mimic gluten) – the healthiest bread that people can eat every day in every meal.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/IMG_1046_large.JPG?v=1543708088\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG MAG: What are your most popular gluten-free creations?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: Gluten-free vegan sourdough bread indeed. My friends love my matcha muffins filled with sweet red bean and the lemon cream pie. And my little one likes the creamy cake roll and Christmas gingerbread man (so she helps me to decorate).\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG Mag: What is the best part of baking gluten-free goods for people?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #000000;\"\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: The joy of sharing my baked goods with others who have Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance, overflows in my heart. The food becomes the bridge between two individuals. Whenever they told me they are eating “real” food, both tasty and nourishing, my mission is complete. I also take serious thought about their well-being. I am the “giver” who initially offers the food, but in the end, I become the “receiver” who is touched by their laughs and tears. They amuse me with stories of how far a father\/mother will go for their children, how deep a husband loves his wife, and how the community helps each other.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG Mag: Do you sell your gluten-free baked goods anywhere?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: I do not sell my baked goods yet. Hopefully, in a year or two later when my daughter's condition gets better, I can start my business.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/IMG_0203_large.JPG?v=1543707937\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003e GFG Mag: What is the gluten-free scene in Hong Kong? \u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #000000;\"\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: While eczema and gut problems are the common discomforts many people have, possibly due to the high exposure to a Western diet, Celiac or gluten intolerance is rarely spoken about in the Hong Kong media. Perhaps the missing link between these two is a proper diagnosis. Gluten-free life is still new to Hong Kong, but the community is growing. Imported gluten-free food costs a fortune. Sadly, there are only around two 100% gluten-free cafes available, and there are lots of work to do on educating chefs and restaurant owners how to prepare safe gluten-free meals as well. Since cross-contamination is a big problem when eating out in Hong Kong, meal prep and a well-stocked cabinet are usually my best resort when I am on the go.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #000000;\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG Mag: What do you enjoy doing on your day off?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: If I don’t go out to enjoy the sun with my family, it sounds nerdy, but I always watch food and cooking shows like “Chef’s Table” and “City Bakes,” listen to the broadcast “Modernist Breadcrumb,” or read books about food. There is so much knowledge out there but so little time to spend learning everything! My family approves my obsession for it is beneficial to them as well. (I have an adorable little helper too) I want to set an example for my little girl that taking care of the food we eat is the best thing we can do for ourselves.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #000000;\"\u003e\u003cimg src=\"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0027\/9796\/1263\/files\/IMG_9935_large.JPG?v=1543708389\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #000000;\"\u003e\u003cbr\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG Mag: What is your favorite cuisine?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #000000;\"\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: That’s a tough question. I adore the cultural character of many cuisines, such as the complexity of Thai herbs, the vibrancy of Mexican tacos, the exoticness of Indian curry, the freshness of Italian ingredients and the preciseness of Japanese culinary skill. I’m not a picky eater. I welcome all kinds of food as a pathway to foreign cultures if it is gluten-free and dairy-free. Probably because I was raised in a multicultural city where “East meets West,” and I stayed a few years in Houston, Texas, I learned about many different customs and beliefs. These life-changing experiences create what I am now, and I am definitely not a stranger to fusion cuisines.\u003cbr\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch1\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #000000;\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #666666;\"\u003eGFG Mag: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?\u003c\/span\u003e\u003cbr\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h1\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #000000;\"\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eAska\u003c\/strong\u003e: I am lucky to live in the era in which information is easily accessible (Thanks to the internet!). I’ve learned a lot from many sourdough bakers globally, both “gluten-loaded” and gluten-free, home enthusiasts and professionals. Success is not a one-person show. I give credits to all of them for helping and supporting me.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"color: #000000;\"\u003eTo keep up with \u003cstrong\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.instagram.com\/worryfreebakes\/\" target=\"_blank\" rel=\"noopener noreferrer\"\u003eAska Tse\u003c\/a\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e and her glorious gluten-free and dairy-free artisan creations, follow her on Instagram!\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch4\u003e\u003cstrong\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e\u003c\/h4\u003e"}

Aska Tse, the INCREDIBLE Gluten-free Baker in Hong Kong

By Lori Miller

GFG MAG: How long have you been baking gluten-free? Is this a hobby or a business? 

Aska: I have been baking gluten-free (and dairy-free) for almost two years since 2016. My husband bought me a bread machine and a gluten-free bread recipe book – that was how I started. My objective at that time was mainly to deal with hunger. I move on from a survivor to a fighter – to make tasty, nutritious baked goods all from scratch for my health. Currently, I'm gluten-free baking as a hobby. Recently my little girl was diagnosed with a chronic health problem. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I will nourish her so she can get better. In the meantime, I will utilize this time to develop my skills and create new recipes. It is my dream to open a bakery/cafe where people can enjoy the freedom of worry-free food!

GFG MAG: Is your kitchen/bakery 100% dedicated gluten-free?

Aska: Unfortunately, my kitchen is only 99.9% gluten-free because my family loves their gluten-loaded snacks. Fortunately, I am the household operation manager aka “mom,” who in charges all the grocery shopping, meal plans, and cooking. We have two sets of kitchenware to set apart gluten-free and gluten-full needs, and two separate dish sponges too. In this way, my family can enjoy their snacks in other areas such as the dining room, and let my kitchen be untouched by gluten and dairy. It did take some time for my family to adapt to this new practice, especially for my little girl. It is a learning process in which mistakes are unavoidable. But I am glad they picked up quickly. Now my girl often tells me what to eat and what not to eat. She will also ask the server for the gluten-free menu at restaurants.

GFG Mag: What made you decide to start creating gluten-free bread?

Aska: Bread is always the love of my life. It’s my staple food even though I am an Asian. I ate bread/pastries more than rice for breakfast, lunch, and snack almost daily since my childhood. Baking gluten-free pastries is a journey to the past, bringing back my childhood memory into something I can smell and taste. The second reason is that baking (bread) itself is like magic. The transformation from a few ingredients into something so different and so wonderful always fascinates me. Fermentation is the cooperation between human and nature – we seek help from the microbe community, interact with the levain, dig our hands into the dough, and keep the starter as a pet. That’s why many people name their starters. Mine are named Hana Noir (mother) and Levi (son). Baking gluten-free is indeed challenging due to a multiplicity of gluten-free flours. Resources are limited, but that is the fun part too. No one studied gluten-free bread/pastries in the past as we do right now. All gluten-free bakers are writing history. It is my honor to be one of the pioneers.

 

 

GFG MAG: Do you live a gluten-free life?

Aska: Yes, I am 100% gluten-free and dairy-free. It was not easy, but it’s worthy. It’s just like running; your legs might be sore for days and the idea of giving up haunts you every day. But soon, your body starts picking up. You build up your muscle memory, you can finally enjoy the fresh breeze in your face. It doesn’t mean you won’t feel tired, but the tiredness and soreness just become more manageable. I sought for packaged food and always ate out when I started being gluten-free in 2012. Eventually, I had a weight issue due to the high sugar and fats in prepared gluten-free food. The only way to eat healthily was to cooking for me and my family. I started cooking at age 32 with zero culinary training. I still remember I prepared a Chinese dish by using a table knife to slice raw steak! Now my family loves my cooking, for I know how to bring the flavor of fresh, good quality of ingredients with mix and match of herbs. My most recent creation is pan-fried chicken with sage and Chinese green onion sauce and pumpkin soup added with cashew and peanut. They are so good that everyone should try these!

 

GFG MAG: When you first started baking and cooking gluten-free, what were the reactions from your friends and family?

Aska: Actually, they did find my gluten-free baked goods tasty at first, like cakes, muffins, and sandwich loaves. I followed recipes which used lots of sugar, oils, and eggs to make them taste better. Then one day a friend told me the bread I baked was like a sandwich-like crumbly cake, it was good to eat by itself, but it was not good for making a sandwich. Suddenly I realize the missing piece: the grains. The best bread should bring out the best of the fermented grains – aroma, flavor, and nutrients. Since then I keep working on gluten-free sourdough, using only flour, water, salt, levain, and binder (to mimic gluten) – the healthiest bread that people can eat every day in every meal.

 

GFG MAG: What are your most popular gluten-free creations?

Aska: Gluten-free vegan sourdough bread indeed. My friends love my matcha muffins filled with sweet red bean and the lemon cream pie. And my little one likes the creamy cake roll and Christmas gingerbread man (so she helps me to decorate).

GFG Mag: What is the best part of baking gluten-free goods for people?

Aska: The joy of sharing my baked goods with others who have Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance, overflows in my heart. The food becomes the bridge between two individuals. Whenever they told me they are eating “real” food, both tasty and nourishing, my mission is complete. I also take serious thought about their well-being. I am the “giver” who initially offers the food, but in the end, I become the “receiver” who is touched by their laughs and tears. They amuse me with stories of how far a father/mother will go for their children, how deep a husband loves his wife, and how the community helps each other.

GFG Mag: Do you sell your gluten-free baked goods anywhere?

Aska: I do not sell my baked goods yet. Hopefully, in a year or two later when my daughter's condition gets better, I can start my business.

 

GFG Mag: What is the gluten-free scene in Hong Kong? 

Aska: While eczema and gut problems are the common discomforts many people have, possibly due to the high exposure to a Western diet, Celiac or gluten intolerance is rarely spoken about in the Hong Kong media. Perhaps the missing link between these two is a proper diagnosis. Gluten-free life is still new to Hong Kong, but the community is growing. Imported gluten-free food costs a fortune. Sadly, there are only around two 100% gluten-free cafes available, and there are lots of work to do on educating chefs and restaurant owners how to prepare safe gluten-free meals as well. Since cross-contamination is a big problem when eating out in Hong Kong, meal prep and a well-stocked cabinet are usually my best resort when I am on the go.

GFG Mag: What do you enjoy doing on your day off?

Aska: If I don’t go out to enjoy the sun with my family, it sounds nerdy, but I always watch food and cooking shows like “Chef’s Table” and “City Bakes,” listen to the broadcast “Modernist Breadcrumb,” or read books about food. There is so much knowledge out there but so little time to spend learning everything! My family approves my obsession for it is beneficial to them as well. (I have an adorable little helper too) I want to set an example for my little girl that taking care of the food we eat is the best thing we can do for ourselves.


GFG Mag: What is your favorite cuisine?

Aska: That’s a tough question. I adore the cultural character of many cuisines, such as the complexity of Thai herbs, the vibrancy of Mexican tacos, the exoticness of Indian curry, the freshness of Italian ingredients and the preciseness of Japanese culinary skill. I’m not a picky eater. I welcome all kinds of food as a pathway to foreign cultures if it is gluten-free and dairy-free. Probably because I was raised in a multicultural city where “East meets West,” and I stayed a few years in Houston, Texas, I learned about many different customs and beliefs. These life-changing experiences create what I am now, and I am definitely not a stranger to fusion cuisines.

GFG Mag: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?

Aska: I am lucky to live in the era in which information is easily accessible (Thanks to the internet!). I’ve learned a lot from many sourdough bakers globally, both “gluten-loaded” and gluten-free, home enthusiasts and professionals. Success is not a one-person show. I give credits to all of them for helping and supporting me.

To keep up with Aska Tse and her glorious gluten-free and dairy-free artisan creations, follow her on Instagram!

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