|Many Americans have had a lifelong love affair with Chinese American food. For many of us it was our first foreign meal, our preferred comfort food, our first experience with take out – and the first family-friendly restaurant where we learned how to dine. And as we grew up, Chinese food was always tasty, quick and affordable.|
For food manufacturer Larry Wu, his first memory is of a Chinese restaurant – one of several owned and operated by his parents in NJ. “As many first-generation American kids, I was immersed in the family business,” he says. “I close my eyes and I can see our takeout packer organizing entrees, appetizers, and soups; the waiters balancing their full trays between narrow spaces; the flames from our ‘chao guo chush’ (wok chef). I grew to love the fast-paced, incredibly dynamic culture.”
Now a young, first-generation Asian American with an entrepreneurial spirit, a love of his native culinary traditions and a philosophy about sharing a modernized version of his cuisine with the world, has developed a collection of Asian-inspired sauces and condiments. In just a few short years, from his first experiments at the age of 23 with turmeric and agave nectar, he’s developed the innovative WUJU Sauce product line available in 1,500 stores across the country – including such names as Publix, Whole Foods, Abertsons/Safeway, and Shoprite.
Wu is a happy combination of his genetics and his experience. His parents went beyond the usual Asian fare and took pride in creating surprising fusion dishes like lamb chops in teriyaki sauce, salt and pepper shrimp with spicy mayo and scallions, and mango and avocado salad combined with traditional Chinese ginger dressing. “It’s an important mission for me to honor my parents and family, who dedicated their lives to serving – and innovating -- Asian food,” he says.
Wu has been on that mission to take their tradition to the next level – to reinvent Asian cuisine for the modern American palate and lifestyle. His models are the visionaries of the past, like those who ambitiously took tuna from canned commodity to gourmet Japanese fare. “My family and the Asian immigrants before them established a lasting Chinese food brand, but it can be much more than just General Tso.”
The WUJU line of Asian sauces now brings modern versions of traditional hot sauces, sweet and sour, and a whole new healthy take on “soy” sauce -- with freshness, quality, simplicity and creativity. He shares that “immigrant families like mine were able to build their lives through General Tso and the familiar 150+ item menu. I’d like to think that our legacy will be letting people in on our ingredients and eliminating all the “behind the scenes” process to make cooking with Asian flavors accessible and approachable.”
- Jane Biba