When Rosie Nguyen opened her bakery in downtown Washington last year, she was off to a bumpy start.
"We opened up on March 11th," Nguyen said.
In the wake of the pandemic, Rose Ave Bakery was quickly forced to close for a month and a half. Like many businesses, it’s future became uncertain. But the bakery was able to reopen last May. And a year later, business is thriving.
"Everything has changed," Nguyen said.
Her biggest issue now is keeping up with pre-orders and serving a line of customers that's known to wrap around the block. Her story is a much-needed relief from the headlines detailing closure after closure. But COVID-19 wasn’t Nguyen’s only challenge in the past 12 months.
Anti-Asian hate crimes soared this year. One survey shows that women are twice as likely to report incidents than men.
In an effort to combat that trend, Nguyen — whose staff is comprised of six Asian American women — channeled her energy into a movement: Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate.
"We are young Asian Americans. We’re not our parents. We are here with voices. We have something to say. And we want to change the times," Nguyen said.
Though it was started by two Washington chefs, the group expanded to San Francisco, New York City, and Detroit. Chefs in each city get together to prepare five-course takeout dinners, with the proceeds going to anti-hate organizations. The next dinner here in DC is Sunday, featuring some of the area’s highest-rated restaurants.
"Things need to change, because what’s happening, still to this day, how can we just sit back and let that happen? When we all come together, the movement becomes stronger, and the end result gets better," Nguyen said.