In the early 16th century, Western explorers set sail to discover the unknowns of the East Indies. They were triumphant in their voyage as they were introduced to a land bountiful in spices and skilled cooks that utilized them to create incredible dishes. These kitchen secrets would then be passed down through generations, keeping their family legacy ablaze. For the Chu family, this secret came in the form of a unique chili oil.

Their grandfather “Agong” was a culinary master who immigrated from Hong Kong to England in the early 1980s, where he brought his expertise to one of the only Asian restaurants in the country. Agong’s flair for world-class cooking was inherited by Kit, mother of Herman and Jessica. Subsequently over the past decade, through symbolic osmosis, Herman and Jessica developed a strong appreciation for culinary art and a natural knack for cooking.

Admitting they didn’t expect to make a business out of their chili oil, now known as Chumami, they realized it would be a mistake not to share with the world. Chumami is a play on words with homage to their mother “Mama Chu”, and Umami which is known in Japanese as the “essence of deliciousness”.

Even if there was a language barrier as Herman and Jessica did not learn Cantonese growing up, they quickly learned that actions truly spoke louder than words. Their interest to take the chili oil recipe and bring it to life has extended a level of love and admiration that doesn't require conversation. Over the past year, they had the chance to learn the origin story of the recipe from the beginning as their mother translated for them. “It's been incredible and we're so honored to continue the legacy,” Herman said.

After being refined over three decades, Chumami is now a premium all-purpose chili oil made with simple, wholesome ingredients. Each batch is produced in small quantities so they can ensure the highest quality which are crafted at a wonderful kitchen incubator, Garden State Kitchen in Orange, New Jersey.

Although this falls under the condiment category, they believe Chumami offers unmatched versatility whether you're using the oil alone for cooking, the mixture as a marinade, or just adding on top for an extra visual and literal kick. Many folks have validated the dynamic uses and have taken to social media and testimonials to express their love for Chumami.

Herman and Jessica realized quickly that they needed to adjust their strategy despite officially launching early last year during the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic. In place of face-to-face events such as a farmers’ market, Chumami took to social media to connect with adventurous foodies.

They know that it’s crucial for them to stay focused and get as many right steps as they can before scaling. Their priority is to take one step at a time, enjoy the process of both success and mistakes, and ensure Chumami’s unique taste is maintained to the highest standard, both honoring their family’s legacy and enhancing the way people eat.

For sure, Agong is proud of them.

You can check their products on

Apr 15, 2021

More from 



View All

Join Our Newsletter and Get the Latest
and Greatest on Asian American Communities

Stay in the loop. No spam ever. Read our Privacy Policy
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.