One year out of college in 2013, Sarah Leung found herself unsure of what she wanted to do next. "I had a vague idea of something in media, writing, or marketing, but I wasn't sure," she says. "On the side, I started a blog called The Woks of Life with my parents and sister - which was a good distraction from trying to figure out what would come next."
The Leungs began using their blog as a space to record family recipes. "We started capturing recipes that my parents prepared for my sister and I growing up," she says. "We had a bit of a rude awakening when we were in college, we realized we had no idea how to make some of our favorite foods." Sarah's mom moved to the U.S. from Shanghai when she was 16, and her dad was a first generation Chinese American whose family owned a Chinese restaurant in New York. Both brought their love for food into their family and raised their children on Shanghainese staples and home-cooked Cantonese food.
Sarah's mom (Judy), dad (Bill), and sister (Kaitlin), all still work on the site today, each crafting their own content and niche. By 2015, the site wasn't just a side hobby; millions of people were coming to the site to discover new recipes. "There are a lot of misconceptions about cooking Chinese food at home, so we try to demystify it," says Sarah. "We have a 10-essential ingredients guide that gives you the basic kitchen staples to get started, and we highlight a lot of really quick and easy recipes." People love their Chinese BBQ pork and Sarah's favorite is their stuffed chicken with sticky rice recipe - "I used to ask for it at every family gathering growing up," she says. "It's actually the dish that motivated me to start the blog."
The site now serves as a way to "record our family's history through food and stories," says Sarah. The Woks of Life also highlights traditional Chinese cooking that can be harder to come across in Chinese restaurants in the U.S. "Before starting our blog, it was really difficult to find Chinese recipes written in English," says Sarah. "We hear a lot from people writing in saying ‘these recipes help me feel closer to my heritage' or ‘my grandma passed away, and I thought these recipes were lost, but yours tasted the same' – hearing feedback like that is incredibly rewarding and motivates us."