Episode 67 with Keen Observer, Fearless Fighter for Justice, and Food and Culture Writer, Esther Tseng


Show Notes and Links to Esther Tseng’s Work and Allusions/Texts from Episode 67 


On Episode 67, Pete talks with Esther Tseng about her freelance writing, her inspirations, seeing herself and her cultures represented in what she has read and continues to read, her profound article from May 2021 after the Atlanta racist spa murders, how her work centers itself in intersections of food, culture, and much more.


Esther Tseng is a Los Angeles-based food, drinks and culture writer available for reported and editorial assignments as well as ghost-written, branded content. She has contributed to the LA Times, Food & Wine, Eater, Civil Eats, LAist, VICE, Time Out, Los Angeleno, and more.

Esther Tseng’s Personal Website


Article for Shondaland from July 30, 2020, "Food Justice Impacts Who Eats and Who Thrives"


Esther Tseng’s Article from May 20, 2021- “The Silence of my White Friends after Atlanta” for Catapult Magazine 


Esther Tseng’s Article from January 28, 2021 in Rsey: LosAngeles-"Uyghurs in America Want to Share Food and Culture. For Them, It’s a Matter of Survival."


At about 1:45, Esther talks about her childhood relationships with food and with the written word, including the interesting ways in which Taiwanese and English and assimilation played roles in her early life

At about 8:30, Esther talks about the fraught relationship of Taiwanese to Chinese governing and how her parents came from a time of censorship/language policing

At about 9:45, Esther is asked if she felt represented in what she read as a kid, and she

At about 11:25, Esther discusses her reading list from when she was a kid

At about 12:35, Esther outlines her journey to becoming a writer, with her start on a food blog, inspired by Jonathan Gold’s “Counter Intelligence” and others

At about 14:55, Esther explains why Jonathan Gold was so inspirational for her, and Pete and Esther trace some of his powerful writing to his patented second-person style

At about 17:20, Esther talks about chill-inducing literature for her, including Cathy Park Hong

At about 19:15, Esther talks about “Eureka” moments in believing in her writing talents

At about 20:20, Esther talks about contemporary food and culture writers who thrill her, including Tejal Rao, Bettina Makalintal, Nicole Clark, and Alicia Kennedy

At about 21:40, Esther discusses how she “pitches” articles and comes up with writing ideas 

At about 23:50, Esther responds to Pete’s inquiries about maintaining objectivity in her writing, especially in doing food reviews

At about 27:20, Esther discusses the “Yelp Effect”

At about 28:55, Esther responds to Pete’s questions about if and how food is an unifying item that brings people and cultures together

At about 31:00, Esther and Pete discuss Esther’s writing about intersections of food and other topics and if she ever gets resistance to writing about these supposedly-disparate topics

At about 33:10, Esther talks about her writing that deals almost exclusively with food

At about 34:10, Esther explains the background and details of her enlightening article about Dolan’s, a rare Uighur restaurant in the United States, and the amazing stories associated with it

At about 39:35, Esther and Pete chat about her article dealing with “food justice” and its disparate meanings 

At about 43:30, Esther discusses her recent personal essay that she wrote for Catapult, “The Silence of My White Friends After Atlanta”

At about 50:05, Pete and Esther discuss her writing about indifference and how recent pieces by R.O. Kwon and Nicole Chung illustrate Esther’s focus on the importance of building coalitions to minimize emotional labor

At about 53:30, Esther reads an excerpt from “The Silence of My White Friends After Atlanta”

At about 1:00:00, Esther reads her article about Dolan’s Restaurant, and Uighurs in America

At about 1:03:20, Esther talks about future projects, including an article that highlights mezcal grown outside of Oaxaca

At about 1:04:26, Esther shouts out a restaurant that she’s been excited about recently in the LA-area: Nossa, a Southern Brazilian restaurant  


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Please check back in for Episode 68 on July 27, with Chris Stuck, whose debut short story collection, Give My Love to the Savages, has been recently released to rave reviews.

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