This week's flower person is the amazing Zoey Gong, Traditional Chinese Medicine nutritionist, chef, consultant, and artist. She truly does it all and all with such grace and intention! Zoey believes in the power of food to not only nourish and satisfy but also to harbor meaningful human connection.
In this interview, we chat about Zoey's life-long adoration for flowers (particularly, peonies), Zoey's exciting soon-to-be-launched Traditional Chinese Medicine project, and the magnificent healing properties of TCM and nutritional food for wellness!
Hi Zoey! Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do!
I am a Shanghai-born Traditional Chinese Medicine nutritionist, chef, consultant, and visual artist. I live in Brooklyn, New York, dedicating my life to modernize traditional Chinese medicine cuisine with my brand @fiveseasonstcm, where people can experience plant-based medicinal dinners, participate in herbal workshops, learn from our resources online, and order herbal ingredients for cooking. I truly believe in the power of food, not only in its nutritional values and taste, but also in culture, aesthetics, and human connections. And TCM cuisine embodies all aspects of it, which is why I want to bring it closer to people.
Love to see your work with plant-based nutrition! You've collaborated with us before for our Daily Ritual campaign and #Flower4Change campaign. Where did your love for flowers come from or what first drew you to flowers?
I'm always drawn to flowers. I used to forage them when I was little, with my grandparents in suburban Shanghai. I just absolutely admired the beauty of flowers. Later I also fell in love with the meanings behind them. I tattooed two peonies on my shoulders, which are the symbols of Chinese culture and prosperity. They are also a medicinal plant. Their petals, seeds, and roots are part of TCM cuisine. Even in Greek culture, the word peony comes from Paeon, a physician of all gods.
Peonies are my favorite flowers! My mother grows them in her garden and that's why they have a special place in my heart. :) What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on building a website that provides educational resources on TCM cuisine. Readers can find recipes, ebooks, online courses, and explanations of Chinese medicinal foods on the site. They will also be able to take a quiz to understand their body constitutions and get personalized eating recommendations.
And what's a daily ritual that's made an impact in your life?
Be mindful of what I consume.
I'd love to know, as you're a chef and TCM nutritionist, what are you drinking and eating currently?
Herbal tea is an absolute must. Chrysanthemum and goji tea and mulberry rose tea are my go-to's.
I'm making a lot of medicinal porridge now for the summer. For example, millet, Chinese yam, fu ling, soloman's seal, Coix seed, and mungbean is a great blend for the summer!
Those recipes all sound nutritious and comforting for the season! What brings you the most comfort?
People I love.
And who is someone that had the most impact on your life for the better?
Buddha, the ones in ancient literature and the ones in my life.
Finally, where do you find inspiration or what have you found super inspiring lately?
- Favorite affirmation? Find enjoyment in everything you do.
- Favorite book? Buddhism book
- Favorite food to cook? Impossible question to answer, I absolutely love all foods
- Favorite city? Shanghai :)
- Favorite movie? The Hours
- What is one advice you would tell your "younger self"? Nothing. I wouldn't want to interfere with the learning I gained from my failures.
If you would like to find more about Zoey and her work her socials are linked below: