Most know James Beard Award-winning restaurateur Ellen Yin for restaurants like Fork, where dishes like scallop crudo caviar, duck rillettes and dry aged ribeye steak for two fill the bellies of the city’s most savvy foodies. But last year, the face behind High Street Hospitality (highsthospitality.com) combined her love for food with the Asian American Community. Dubbed The Wonton Project, the takeout and delivery ghost kitchen has donated over $13,000 to local and national organizations promoting equality in AAPI communities like Asians Americans United. As Yin gears up to celebrate her one year anniversary of the program, we catch up with the restaurateur for all of the details.
Tell me more about The Wonton Project.
Last April, I started The Wonton Project as a takeout and delivery ghost kitchen pop-up to fight discrimination against Asian Americans following the violence in Atlanta. Over the past year, we have continued to support anti-Asian discrimination by donating 5% of all proceeds to local and national organizations promoting equality in AAPI communities including Asians Americans United. To date, we’ve donated over $13,000 to these organizations. While I’m a restaurateur, I’m no chef and I really can’t cook. But one thing I feel confident in making is wontons. So, with the help of Fork’s chef, I converted my mother’s beloved wonton recipe into one that can be executed in a restaurant. She was big on sight/feeling, but in restaurants, you need to be a bit more precise. The Wonton Project is run out of High Street Philly in Washington Square as well as High Street Provisions in University City. Additionally, we use our Instagram page (@thewontonproject) as a community-building platform. We feature local members of the AAPI community to showcase the impact these individuals are making on our city and the world.
As you celebrate its one-year anniversary, what can we expect?
We will be doing another push for May being AAPI month and hope to be able to raise even more money this year.
What is the overall mission for the ghost kitchen?
The goal has been to raise awareness of the discrimination against Asian Americans and share my mother’s delicious recipes with the world or … at least Philadelphia.
As an Asian American, what does it mean to have been able to donate $13,000 to organizations fighting AAPI community injustices?
Community has been at the heart of what I do for the past 25 years. And while, in all honesty, I haven’t always leaned into my Asian roots as a restaurateur of modern American restaurants, I feel honored to have found a way to give back to the AAPI community via The Wonton Project.
What is your goal for this year?
As we enter our second year, I hope to expand our wonton menu and perhaps consider a full-time ghost kitchen operation at High Street Provisions as well.
Photography by: Courtesy of High Street Hospitality Group