Physician. Chocolatier. Small-business Owner.
I am an artisanal chocolatier and small-business owner. I am also a board-certified psychiatrist, and am hoping to start a private practice later in 2021.
Psychiatry has been a satisfying career choice, especially after finding a patient population where my work felt meaningful. I chose to specialize in women’s mental health issues and minority mental health issues, because throughout training, I saw that Asian-Americans were both under-diagnosed and under-treated. This was partially due to the stigma of mental illness in our community, partially due to lack of representation in the field. I was often assigned Asian patients, which initially offended me a bit, because I felt that my non-Asian colleagues should also learn how to treat Asian patients. However, I quickly saw that these patients related to me in a way that they could not relate to non-Asian physicians. It felt easier for them, not having to explain cultural nuances, and not getting suggestions that would not be appropriate for their family dynamics. I went on to speak on several panels and presented at conferences on depression in Asian-American college women. I also sought to advocate more for our community by serving as the Deputy Representative for the Asian American Psychiatrists Caucus in the American Psychiatric Association for 3 years.
After some time working as a physician, I felt that I was neglecting my creative side. I had taken several vacations centered around learning how to cook, and decided to spend one vacation learning how to make chocolates. I was instantly obsessed. Several more classes and lots more heavy books on chocolate later, I decided to quit my job at Kaiser to start my own chocolate company – Formosa Chocolates. It has been a fun adventure thus far, one that has challenged me to learn and do things I never thought I’d be capable of. I am excited to see where it takes me next!
How does being Taiwanese/Taiwanese American and/or community ally play a role in your life?
I grew up in Oklahoma, so I did not grow up with many Taiwanese/Taiwanese-Americans.
I often felt like an outsider among a sea of white peers. On occasion, there was outright bullying, but mostly, endless microaggressions that made me feel like being Asian was something I needed to overcompensate for. I remember being particularly envious of my cousins who grew up in SoCal, because they never knew what this experience was like. However, I am grateful for my childhood experiences now, since they have led to a deeper appreciation for the Taiwanese community. Now that I have gotten more connected with the diaspora, I am endlessly inspired by the amazing things members of our community are out there accomplishing. Immigrants truly make America great, and I couldn’t be prouder to be the daughter of two Taiwanese immigrants.
If you could teach future generations 1 thing about being Taiwanese/Taiwanese American or Taiwan, what would it be?
I wish future generations would integrate Taiwanese values of consideration and respect toward one another and the planet. This is manifested in their enviable healthcare system, LGBT rights, elder care, and environmentalism. Why shouldn’t we have this in America too?
What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?
Despite the horrifying uptick in violent crimes against Asians in the last year, I am optimistic about the future of Taiwanese America. Our community has contributed a lot to this country, and still has so much more to offer. I am hopeful that future generations will look back on what we have achieved with pride, and feel inspired to keep pushing forward.
Favorite memory of Taiwan/Taiwanese America?
I was in Ann Arbor for residency, far away from family and home, and hadn’t made many friends there yet. Actually, other than my co-residents, I only knew one other person in all of Michigan. I stumbled upon an Asian hair salon (shoutout to New Age Hair Salon on Maynard) while walking through town one day, and decided to pop-in for a haircut. To my great surprise, my hairstylist was Taiwanese. She immediately began asking about my family, all the basic things Taiwanese people chat about when they encounter one another in the wild. It seems like such a little thing, but I remember my eyes welling up when she told me how brave she thought I was for moving across the country on my own to train to be a doctor. Coming from a woman who came across an entire ocean! Hearing Taiwanese-accented Chinese made me feel immediately at home. It is the same way I feel when I visit Taiwan — the consideration for others and hospitality is simply unparalleled. Obviously, I got my hair cut there exclusively the entire time I lived in A2!
Favorite Taiwanese food?
牛肉麵 and 太陽餅
Connect with Kimberly via Formosa Chocolates on Instagram and Facebook! Kimberly is working on developing more Taiwanese flavors for my chocolates, and hopefully, a Taiwan-shaped bonbon too! Currently using Formosan Coffee in my coffee caramel bonbons, and planning to start using Kavalan Whisky next. Kimberly is always open to other ideas and collaborations, and you can contact her via email!
Check out her feature on TaiwaneseAmerican.Org’s Instagram and Facebook!