Rachelle Liu and Kathleen Chen
Oh My Pan: An Asian Bakery With Personal Flair
Asian bakeries are a staple in the San Gabriel Valley, and for good reason. I myself have so many memories of holding trays piled high with breads and pastries, breathing in the warm aroma emanating from the plastic wrapping. Asian bakeries showed me that beyond the supermarket loaf, bread can be deeply personal. This is especially true for Jonathan Chen, who uses his expertise as a chef and pâtissier to elevate familiar Asian breads and pastries at Oh My Pan Bakery & Tea.
Jonathan Chen was born in Taiwan and got his start in the culinary industry after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu. From there, he spent several years working in the pastry departments of the InterContinental, Montage, and Four Seasons hotels. He says, “Luckily, I was able to work with several excellent pastry chefs from all parts of the world to enhance my skill.” While he has extensive professional training, Jonathan tells us that his love for food stems from his childhood. “I love to eat. I used to help my grandmother cook when I was younger, and it left a lasting impression on me. Especially when making sweet treats. I fell in love with cooking and baking then, and it certainly inspired me to become a chef.”
While his love for food and nostalgic memories inspired the career choice, Jonathan says that it is a love for creating that keeps him passionate about the business. He loves being able to share his food with family, friends, and even strangers that he may never even meet. To him, being a chef is much like being an artist. He gets to share his creative work and connect with others in the most personal way that he knows: through food. Every artist needs a studio, and it was always Jonathan’s goal to have a space to fully express himself. For him, opening Oh My Pan was truly a dream come true. “Pan” means “bread” in Taiwanese, Japanese, Spanish, and Korea, so the name Oh My Pan literally means “Oh My Bread.” While the bread and pastries are very personal to Jonathan, he hopes you will come to see the bakery as your own too.
As with many small businesses, opening Oh My Pan was no easy feat. They opened doors in 2011 in the midst of the recession. While this was a risky move, Jonathan believed, “if our business can make it during this time, then people really do like our products.” Although they did make it successfully through the recession, they still face everyday competition with other larger bakeries and establishments. Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, business has only become tougher as sales dropped dramatically and it was difficult to procure essential ingredients like flour, milk, sugar, and salt. While the competition is tough, Jonathan believes that Oh My Pan still shines because of their high quality ingredients and the care they take in creating each and every pastry, cake, or bread.
Beyond making fantastic drinks and desserts, Jonathan emphasizes the importance of another key ingredient: people. “The most important thing I have learned in my business is the importance of integrity.” He recognizes that small businesses have to rely heavily on word of mouth, and repeat customers are the ones who can really make or break a business. His team also plays a key role, and Jonathan works hard to coach his team to have the same business practices that he does. While he knows that challenges will continue to come, he is unafraid. “I see my team as a family and I believe we can go through even the toughest of situations.” Even though the current situation is tough, Jonathan remains hopeful and finds the work rewarding. He says, “The best feeling is when people compliment our products and we see regulars returning.” So what are you waiting for? Give Oh My Pan Bakery a try! We’re sure that their bread will become a personal favorite of yours too.
Visit Oh My Pan Bakery & Tea!
San Gabriel: 801 E Valley Blvd #105, San Gabriel, CA 91776
Oh My Pan Website
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