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Women in Business Q&A: Channaly Philipp, Co-Curator, Taste Asia Food Festival

06/02/2015 04:44 am ET | Updated Jun 01, 2016

Channaly Philipp is one of the masterminds behind the 2015 Taste Asia Food Festival, the largest Asian food festival in North America. She serves as the Managing Editor of Epoch Taste, the dining and food section of The Epoch Times. Having spent nearly a decade in the foodie world, Channaly is well versed in the culinary arts and has become a world traveler exploring from Cambodia to Nepal and all throughout Europe. It is this diverse cultural and culinary experience that she lends to Taste Asia, helping to craft an unparalleled experience for attendees.

The Taste Asia Food Fest is the largest Asian food festival in North America and the month long celebration starts June 1st, where New Yorkers and visitors can check out Asian dining deals from their favorite restaurants throughout the city and cast their votes for the inaugural Best NYC Asian Restaurants contest.

The celebration leads up to a free two-day outdoor foodie fest on June 26th and 27th in Times Square. The two days will be filled with live cooking demos, eating contests, cultural performances, delicious tastings from local NYC eateries and the highly anticipated 7th International Chinese Culinary Competition.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I've always been interested in people and their stories, where they come from, and what drives them. I'm a journalist so I try to get in people's heads to understand them. You can find interesting stuff going on in people's heads, really. It's important to focus on the positive.

I grew up between a few cultures: Cambodian, French, and American. My father was a Cambodian refugee and found political asylum in France, where I was born. Later we moved to California. I think that's made me very attuned to tone and body language and, in general, unspoken communication. There are different ways to read people, and you have to read the whole package to get a clear
picture.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position as Co-Curator for the Taste of Asia Food Festival?
Besides co-curating the festival, I'm also managing editor for Epoch Taste, the food and dining section of Epoch Times in New York City. That helps tremendously, of course, as my work brings me in touch with a variety of cuisines and chefs. One of the most valuable aspects for me is learning the stories behind the food--the chefs' stories, their lives, and what drives them.

I've also lived in some parts of Asia for a few months--for example, almost half a year in Nepal as a student, and the memories of that are just heartbreaking when I think of what's happening right now. In terms of food, I lived with host families, so we ate what they ate, which was daal bhat
tarkari, basically rice, and whatever vegetables are around, and lentils, two times a day, every day. That helps a lot to keep things in perspective. There's that area between authenticity and what people are eating on the ground (and also sometimes -- not eating) and the creativity that comes with being a chef, having the skills and access to ingredients. I grew up eating both Cambodian (where my parents are from) and French food so I guess you could say those early experiences were formative for my palate.

What have the highlights and challenges been as Co-Curator of Taste Asia Food Festival?
As we put together the line-up of chefs, and began thinking about what they cook, a huge challenge was managing the cravings that come up. Okay, I'm only (half) joking here, but when I think of each chef, from Hemant Mathur to Joe Isidori to Esther Choi, I have these very vivid, and just very acute memories of flavor profiles and dishes come up. I know all of them pour their hearts into what they do, so it is a real privilege to be able to work on the talent that will be showcased during Taste Asia. A challenge is -- the whole of Asia is huge, and as we get an appreciation for regional cuisines, it gets very difficult to represent all of the diversity that we want to celebrate.

What advice can you offer women who are looking to get into business?
You have to really love what you do because there will be low times, and your passion for your work has to be stronger than any of those. Connect with people already successful in the industry you're interested in. People are glad to give advice (and to talk about themselves!)

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Journalists are notorious for having really messy work/life balances and home lives. There's no real separation between work and life outside of work. I've run through leads in my head while in bed at 3 a.m. or headlines in the shower, that kind of thing.

My biggest anchor is my meditation practice, Falun Dafa. It's an ancient Chinese practice rooted in truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. It keeps me grounded and healthy. Sadly, it's persecuted in China by the Chinese regime.

On the home front, my husband is an investigative journalist so there's some mutual understanding when the other has his or her head wrapped in a story or needs to stay at the office very late. And children are infamous for adding to the daily juggle. But they also have a terrific radar for detecting when you're tense or negative, and they reflect how you're feeling, so there's a real onus to lighten up and actually step back and see the big picture.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Like it or not, a lot of the burden of raising a family falls on women, and there's a vast inadequacy in supporting women who are pursuing their career goals and caring for the families.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Early in my 20s I was lucky enough to have a mentor who was very wise, and mostly he did not offer any advice. He mostly asked questions that would help me find my own way. I was completely lost and unanchored, and having someone who believed in me--and he was someone who just believed so much in people's innate goodness--it made a big difference.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
The older I get, the more I find inspiration in the circle of women that I know or meet. You come to realize there's so much heroism in the little everyday things that they do--a word of encouragement here or there to keep others going, or that ceaseless persistence day after day-- whether that's asmall act or one that changes the world.

What do you want the Taste Asia Food Festival to accomplish in the next year?
My hope is simply that people will have a great time. This is a celebration of Asian cuisine and cultures, and meant to be enjoyed!