As a child, Whisk creator @cookingwithshanshan was surrounded by fresh ingredients grown in the small rural Chinese village she was raised in. ‘Everything we had in the village was fresh and I was influenced by my parents and grandparents to eat with fresh ingredients.’ The food of the mountainous region Shan hails from – near the city of Chongqing – is known for its legendary spiciness and delicious hot pot creations.

Shan would be sent into the garden to pick spring onions or cilantro for dinner, and years later in the US she carries that same ethos through to her own cooking. She even has her own chickens who lay her eggs, and a vegetable garden in her home. ‘I grow pumpkins, eggplants, chillies, sweet potatoes. I have a fig tree and pomegranate tree. I love having access to fresh ingredients. It kind of brings back my childhood memories and I love it.’  

Just do it

Shan knows a thing or two about how creators can inspire people too. Her own journey as a food creator started after a YouTuber said in a video that ‘if you want to do social media, you have to start now and stop making excuses.’ She knew she wanted to share her love of fresh, Chinese food and started with YouTube which didn’t really take off.  She actually started to experiment with TikTok on the recommendation of her Chinese family, and soon started to see her channel taking off thanks to her love of sharing authentic Chinese food online.

Her advice for aspiring creators is along the same lines as Sophie Bakas. ‘Just start doing it. At first it’s going to be challenging. Nothing is easy – if it was, everyone would be successful. But if you have a love for it, just start now and be consistent. You putting in the hard work is what really matters. I’m still working on it now. But if you’re continuously doing what you do, eventually someone is going to see your work’ she says. ‘I had a few brands reach out to me to work with them – and I still do hotpot classes now.’

So we know she’s humble about her achievements, but there’s no denying that Shan is climbing up the creator ladder these days. At the moment, Shan still works full time as an interpreter and her work as a creator is a side hustle. It’s an interesting balance, but Shan enjoys getting to show different facets of herself. On the creator side of things, she loves the creativity it offers and the space to interact with people. Shan credits her success (in both spheres!) to being determined, consistent, and authentic. “It’s ok to get tired or frustrated. And I think sometimes you need to take a little break and recharge before coming back to it.’

What gets Shan excited about food

When it comes to the actual food and cooking, Shan says her goal ‘is just to share passion and love for Chinese food.’ And having tested some of her recipes, we can attest to the fact that you can taste the love in her food! “On top of fundamental culinary skills, I think the main thing is to have fresh ingredients and love. Most Chinese food is made from scratch, and buying readymade things won’t taste the same. For Shan though, it’s more than just “I think your longevity, your skin, and your general wellbeing has a lot to do with what you eat. My grandmother is 102. She’s lived her whole life in her small village and has probably never seen a microwave or an air fryer or anything. But I think it has a lot to do with her lifestyle – she eats what they grow so it’s always fresh, she stays active too.”

One of Shan’s key childhood food memories is biting into rice dumplings during the Lunar New Year period – check out her favorite dishes for Chinese New Year here. Her mom would hide a coin inside one dumpling, and the person who got the coin would be blessed with good luck for the rest of the year. This is a tradition you’ve probably heard in other parts of the world, whether it’s a penny in Christmas pudding or a coin in bread. Food is a universal language, after all!

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CookingWithShanShan and Whisk = a dream team

We always love hearing what creators think of Whisk – working closely with our creators is what we think makes Whisk stand out. Luckily, Shan agrees that Whisk is the best app out there for foodies. “I love Whisk because it has a variety of cuisines to try from. So whether you love Japanese, Middle Eastern, or Italian food you can find something you can work with for your cooking passion. On the creator side of things, I love how easy it is to upload recipes and how simple it is for users to access those recipes. It’s my main recipe sharing platform now, the one that I’m most focused on because it’s just so easy and convenient to use.”