Today we’d like to introduce you to Natascha Hess.
Natascha, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Being a chef is my 3rd career. I was an attorney and also worked in live sports broadcast TV for many years. I was an attorney, practicing divorce, bankruptcy, and criminal law, and it was really depressing. I had been a Chinese major in college and lived in China with a family. I fell in love with cooking and Asian Street Food while living and traveling in Asia. I decided to start a food truck called The Ginger Pig and was so lucky to get the opportunity to learn from a real expert. I interned at Brazen in Denver with Chef Carrie Baird. She then helped me on the truck that first summer in 2016.
Carrie then went on Top Chef and we went on to win the Westword’s Best Food Truck in Denver in 2018. Five years after starting this journey, we are thrilled to be in Boulder’s first food hall, Rosetta Hall, which opened in October. After years of food trucking, we love being inside and being part of an amazing community with eight independently owned restaurants under one roof.
Has it been a smooth road?
We have had some struggles for sure. We have had mechanical issues with the truck ranging from needing a new engine and new transmission, which each happened more than once to the gas pedal being completely detached while driving to frozen water pipes even after being drained and blown out with an air compressor.
The weather has been more of a challenge than we would have thought. We found out that people don’t really like coming to food trucks when it is snowing, or raining, or in the 20’s or the 90’s. We have found the food truck to be really really hot in the summer and really really cold in the winter. We have worn pants under our pants and often felt like we were camping, but not in a good way. Food trucking is so hard but so rewarding. We have spilled fryer oil while driving and burned ourselves cooking and we have laughed and cried. We have had some 20 hour days, which I didn’t even know was a thing. We have built strength and character and made some amazing friends, which makes all the struggles worth it. We like to call these challenges learning opportunities now.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Ginger Pig – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We make Asian Street Food. We are known for our Char Siu (Chinese bbq pork) and our Bangkok Balls (Thai red curry rice balls done arancini style). We will be reopening in the first week of June with a brand new menu. Really excited about some of the things we have been working on. It took me five years to really get the Sichuan Spicy Eggplant (yuxiang qiezi) right and good enough to put on the menu to sell. It was my favorite thing I ate in China and it is the dish that made me want to cook professionally and made me want to cook Chinese food. My Chinese host mom, Nalu Zhang, used to make it several times a week and I am so happy to be able to share my version in her honor.
The thing I am most proud of is the team we have built. We have a really strong group that cares about The Ginger Pig and they care about each other. What sets us apart is our team. So much love going into all the food every single day.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
BEST: The People. LEAST: It’s expensive for the people that work in the city to live in the city. I wish Boulder was more affordable.
- Website: www.gingerpig.com
- Phone: 720-990-4552
- Instagram: @gingerpigboulder