Last month at the Hester Street Fair, I met Terry, the baker behind Filled With Sweets where she introduced her Asian-inspired baked goods. It is a small start up, but surely filled with many creative ideas and unique items. More recently, she took the time for a Q & A session with me. Hope it inspires you to try new things and perhaps, strike your curiosity to check them out! Enjoy!
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
A: I’m Terry Chen, the owner and baker of Filled With Sweets. I was born in Queens and was raised up in Long Island, New York. I’ve been living in the city for a number of years now, staying here after graduating from NYU (woo hoo). In terms of my heritage, I come from a Taiwanese home which plays a part in influencing my baked good flavors.
Q: What/who is Filled With Sweets?
A: Filled With Sweets is a NYC baking company devoted to creating delicious desserts with accompanying fillings. Taking inspiration from the owner’s Taiwanese-American background, our products embody Asian-inspired flavors and incorporate the use of high-quality ingredients. We look to integrate various fillings that blend different taste and textures to create one baked good that is unique and tasty.
Q: When did you decide to start Filled With Sweets? What was your inspiration behind Filled With Sweets?
A: I decided to start Filled With Sweets arguably a year and a half ago when I started to bake and experiment with flavors. It was after a trip to San Francisco when I decided to dedicate myself to starting up Filled With Sweets and see if this can take me anywhere! The inspiration behind Filled With Sweets stems from my heritage as I’ve always gone back to Taiwan and visited other countries in Asia throughout my childhood and into the present. Growing up I ate foods that had ingredients like black sesame and red bean, which was always so delicious, and my friend prompted me into thinking about how good these things taste and incorporating these flavors into sweets. After surveying the NYC landscape, I decided that there’s a place for baked goods that uses Asian flavors AND have fillings in them! Who wouldn’t like an extra texture or flavor in their cupcake or cookie?
Q: Are you a self-taught or trained baker?
A: I am self-taught though I have taken a week-long pastry course at the ICE. I would say that I’ve been baking since high school, having time with my best friend to try making different things like cakes, pies, cookies, etc. It’s always been something fun for me to do, and be creative with.
Q: What was your first baking project/creation for Filled With Sweets?
A: My first baking project for Filled With Sweets was creating a green tea cupcake. You would be surprised as to how much research / trial-and-error went into this cupcake. I tried various jams and different matcha powders to see which pairings worked out the best. It was really fun but definitely was a longer process than I thought it would be.
Q: What is your proudest creation to date and why?
A: To be honest, I would say that I’m proud of all my creations (I know that sounds cheesy). However, I will point out that I really hit the jackpot when I created the black sesame flavor because that is what I love to eat; plus making the paste myself showed me that I can really make some great delicious things!
Q: What are some Asian ingredients you are interested in working with? or flavors you would like to introduce?
A: Wow, I wish I had time to really develop some other baked goods that incorporate flavors such as condensed milk, pineapple filling (that would be in Taiwanese pineapple cake), and oolong tea. These are ingredients / flavors I look to explore so keep your eyes open for things to come!
Q: Who/where do you seek your inspiration?
A: For me, walking around the city, revisiting Chinese / Japanese bakeries, and even talking to my family about what they’ve eaten recently makes me think of flavors or things I like to eat myself. Of course friends who share the same sentiment as me regarding Asian food share with me what they would like to see as well, so that always helps.
Q: What is your next baking project?
A: My next baking project is probably going to be creating another cookie…as to what flavor? Not sure but hopefully it’ll turn out something tasty!
Q: What are three of your must-have kitchen appliances and why?
A: Stand mixer, blender / food processor, and a microwave. I think the stand mixer is obvious, a blender / food processor to pulverize anything to make into pastes, and microwave simply because I reheat food all the time.
Q: What is(are) your favorite Asian dessert(s)?
A: I love and can eat Taiwanese pineapple cake, sun cakes, and black sesame “tong yuan” (mochi-like balls with black sesame paste in them). I also LOVE shaved ice that has grass jelly, red beans, tapioca, mangos topped with condensed milk and black sugar. I can probably eat that all day in the summer.
Q: Do you like durian? If so, would you like to put that in a cupcake? Because I do.
A: I actually am relativity neutral about durian. I had a fresh durian in Taiwan; it was creamy and the flavor itself wasn’t offensive (like its smell). As for putting it into a cupcake, who knows if I get around to that flavor!
Q: What are a few of your favorite places to eat in NYC and what do you like to order there?
A: Wow this list might actually be fairly long, so I’ll try to highlight a few: Ippudo (akimaru modern ramen), Caracas Arepa Bar (any arepa to be honest), Roasting Plant Coffee (small coffee, chocolate chip cookie), St. Alps (curry with green tea noodles, black sesame sorbie), Kung-Fu Tea (special milk tea with tapioca), Fatty Crab (chili crab), and…this list can go on.
Q: Favorite Asian bakery? non-Asian bakery?
A: Panya is pretty good in terms of having good Japanese bread. In terms of cakes, I really like Lady M or Blackhound. Chinatown has a bunch of Chinese bakeries, but I can’t say I have a favorite there.
Q: Breakfast or brunch spot?
A: Oh brunch is a great meal. Love going to Good Restaurant, Clinton St. Bakery,
Q: What about lunch, dinner, or late night spots?
A: I mentioned a few dinner spots earlier, but others would include Public, Sasabune, Tori Shin, though I love mixologist places as well. Rainnes Law Room and Death & Co. are great.
Q: Do you accept special requests or custom orders?
A: Yes I definitely do so feel free to reach out!
Q: Where can we find you?
A: You can find me at Hester Street Fair on August 20 and September 10. Otherwise, you can reach out to me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for taking the time to chat!