We had the good fortune of connecting with Angelina Hong and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Angelina, how does your business help the community?
I started my business because I truly believe that food is our number one connector, and that it can be used as a way to authentically navigate and communicate with the world.
At first glance, owning a social media management and digital marketing agency may not seem to have a social impact. But it’s the way that I run my business and view my work that helps communities. I use social media as a tool to create community around food. It’s a way for chefs to tell their stories and share their recipes.
Food is so political. It starts at the seed, then grows in the hands of farmers, delivered by drivers, prepared by chefs, and consumed by customers. Along the way, it’s touched by so many different hands (literally and figuratively) and can be used as a lens to discuss equality and justice in labor, economics, environment, culture and more.
So I like to think that I use my skills and expertise to invite people to learn about the story and culture behind the food and the chef.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
What sets Gourmand Group apart from other businesses is that we conduct nearly everything in house. From the management, to the graphics, to the PR, to the content creation, and to the ideation of the campaigns—we do it all. Not only that, but we’re PASSIONATE about what we do. I always joke that whenever I’m on Instagram or TikTok that I’m conducting market research, but honestly, it’s true. My brain is never mindlessly consuming information. I’m attentive to the details and I report back to my team so we can implement, iterate, and improve.
In addition, I’m a Hmong and Korean, second generation Asian American woman who identifies as bi-sexual and queer. I’m the daughter to a refugee mother and an immigrant father, and these experiences and identities make me well aware of the current social landscape. I always say that the personal is political, and I take that to heart, and put that into nearly everything I do.
My business has come extremely far from the early days. The beginning stages of Gourmand Group originated when I began taking food photography freelance work several years ago. From there, I grew my business through the power of networking and marketing, and began taking social media consulting gigs. I reached a point where I knew my time was not scaleable, and I wanted to be able to serve more people while niching down even further in my work. That’s when I decided to form my company.
The journey wasn’t easy, but it did come naturally. I joke that part of my success I owe to my ignorance, which is in part true, because if I knew how much work I had to put in at the start, it may have deterred me from fully diving into the path. There were many sacrifices along the way. An innumerable amount of late nights and early mornings. But always grounding myself in my “why” helped me push through the days that I felt like slowing down. My “why” being that I want to build a legacy for my family and help support them in ways that I wasn’t given the privilege or access to, and to be able to tell the stories of food and the people behind the food.
Now that I have a team, I’m even more motivated to perform. It’s an incredible amount of responsibility to know that people rely on me for their livelihood, and that people believe in me enough to be a part of my company. All of that motivates me through the rough days.
I’ve learned so many lessons. I’ll list out a few that may resonate with fellow entrepreneurs:
Enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Life is meant to be enjoyed with others, so take the time to celebrate your accomplishments. You won’t remember every late night, but you will remember nights out with your friends and family.
The beauty of life is its unpredictability. Lean in to the unknown. Being uncomfortable or scared is often a sign of growth.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I LOVE my city of San Francisco. Of course, almost all of my recommendations would be where to eat and drink. Let me detail you out one of my many perfect days that I often take first time visitors:
Start your morning off with coffee and a morning bun from Tartine Bakery. Be prepared for a bit of a wait but it’s well worth it. The banana cream tart might also be my favorite dessert on the menu, so definitely grab one of those too. Enjoy your breakfast at Dolores Park, and I recommend sitting at the top of the hill to look out over the city. If you’ve got the time, stop by Bi-Rite just down the street to grab mimosa supplies before heading to the park.
For lunch I’d say you should jet off towards the ocean to catch the breeze. You can either go to Fisherman’s Wharf/North Beach for some cioppino at Sotto Mare or Portofino. Or grab a seafood tower at Fog Harbor. If you go in the opposite direction towards Ocean Beach, grab fish tacos at Hook Fish or Underdogs Tres.
For your final meal, it would be best to try out some of San Francisco’s unique dinners. My current favorites in the city are Nari (order the massaman curry) or Itria (order the mafoldine) if you’re in the mood for fine dining with entrees that deliver a punch of umami. If you’re looking for something more casual, my best suggestions would be El Techo for the rooftop views (order the chiccharones), China Live for a modern interior in old Chinatown (order the Char Siu BBQ Pork Buns), or Rintaro for an intimate Japanese dining experience (order any of their yakitori).
Polish off your evening with some cocktails in the city. I’d recommend going to Pacific Cocktail Haven, Beehive, or True Laurel.
San Francisco is home to SO MUCH more but it’s hard to fit it all in. The best things about the city is our love for coffee, brunch, and beers, so definitely don’t miss out on those.
If you have the time, cruising out to different cities and the outskirts of the Bay Area are always worth the drive. Such as Oakland, Napa, and Half Moon Bay just to name a few.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to shoutout Asian Hustle Network, and specifically Bryan Pham and Maggie Chui for creating that community. I found them at a time where I was really starting to develop my entrepreneurial spirit and they (as well as the group) were instrumental in making me feel like I had others with me on my journey, even if I was building my business on my own. The group opened my eyes to see what’s possible, and the possibilities are truly endless.
Instagram: @angelinahongmedia OR @gourmandgroup