#Wellheeled Ladies We Love: Chef Diane Chang
Next up in our series of stylish women we admire—and whose work has them on their feet on the regular—is Diane Chang. As a food writer, chef and owner of her own catering business, Po-Po’s, Diane has plenty on her plate (sorry, had to!). Luckily, she made time to hang with us and chat about her favorite neighborhood spots, a vintage shopping obsession and the inspiring woman she’d swap places with for a day if she could.
Tell us about yourself—what do you do, where do you live?
I cook and own my own catering business, Po-Po’s. I’m working on a self-improvement cookbook as well. I live in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.
Let’s do a walking tour of your neighborhood. What are some favorite spots for…
Sahadi’s, though I’m always in Chinatown sourcing Asian ingredients
Dancing: Lover’s Rock forever
Strolling: Love walking around Bed-Stuy—across Stuyvesant, up Halsey over to Fulton
Relaxing: It’s a tie. The Mixtape Shop where I can browse records and have a coffee at the same time. Or the Bedford-Stuyvesant Community Garden. Brian, who oversees it, is always cooking something. Plus it’s lush, peaceful and filled with edible greenery. Also, a new wellness space in the neighborhood, HealHaus. (I helped them create their smoothie menu!)
Late-night snacking: I try to avoid late-night snacking, but if I had to, then The Commodore in Williamsburg for nachos. Sinfully delicious.
What made you decide to make the leap from food writer to chef?
I’ve always enjoyed telling stories with food—whether through writing or cooking. But with cooking, there’s more intimacy and dialogue between me and whomever I’m feeding. And I enjoy making stuff with my hands. My grandmother (or popo in Mandarin), tried to discourage me from being in the kitchen even though it was a big part of her life. As a war refugee and an immigrant, cooking was a necessity, not a choice for her. Understandably she wanted me to have the cushy opportunities she didn’t. So I never thought I could cook for a living…but I just made the leap.
You must be on your feet a lot. What kinds of shoes do you wear to stay comfy while cooking?
Any shoes with support. My friend Laila turned me onto white clogs that cost five dollars on eBay, but they get dirty easily.
How about the rest of the ensemble—do you have a go-to kitchen outfit?
I found a pair of striped Chef Works pants at a thrift store for six dollars. They’re cropped and wide legged—so they’re cute enough to wear in and out of the kitchen. I’ll wear any top as long as I have an apron that can shield me from grease stains. And always a bright yellow bandana or a denim cap to keep my hair back.
Describe your personal style.
I love anything old that’s new again. My closet is 90 percent vintage—whether it’s thrifted or recycled from friends. These days, I’m pretty minimalist as I’m always running around the farmers market or in the kitchen. But I do love dressing up. Give me an occasion to wear my dresses and heels, please!
If you could spend a day in somebody else’s shoes, who would you choose and why?
I would want to be Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Bronx native who recently won the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th Congressional District. I’m in awe of what she’s done for her community and for young women. I’d love to see what she’s up against and how she emotionally, physically and mentally elevates herself to do the work that’s necessary. She’s very inspiring.