Jing Gao spent several years courting Sichuan suppliers and merchants to source the 18 premium ingredients that make up her Chili Crisp sauce, the hero product of Fly By Jing, her signature line of sauces and spices that launched in 2019 and has drawn a passionate fan base. Gao, who trained under legendary Chengdu chef Yu Bo, has positioned her brand, Fly By Jing, as an elevated, all-natural alternative to the $2 bottles of chili oil that reign in the West. (Chili Crisp, by contrast, costs $15.) “Most people believe that French cuisine commands a high price but Chinese cuisine does not,” says Gao. “We’re trying to place that value in [Chinese] cuisine, and in turn, place a value in the culture and people.”
Her uncompromisingly intense flavors and bold neon branding helped the brand break through last year, as people turned to home cooking during the pandemic. The line is now carried on the Fly By Jing website and in more than 400 stores, plus Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Target this fall. Fly By Jing’s tagline, “Not Traditional, But Personal,” also nods to the journey of self-discovery that led Gao, who grew up across Europe and Canada with the westernized moniker Jenny, to reclaim her birth name, Jing. In the spirit of taking up space, an abbreviated version of Gao’s story appears at the top of each product’s label.
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