Welcome to the metaverse; like it or hate it, we’re all part of it now. And one person who’s embraced it is Shirley Chung, chef and owner of Ms Chi Café in Culver City, Calif. and proprietor of Dumpling Mafia, a dumpling NFT community.
A trained chef at some of the most prestigious restaurants — think Thomas Keller and Jose Andres — Chung is no slouch. So why go into the NFT market?
“Innovation is so important for a chef in 2021,” Chung said in a statement. “I specialize in Chinese American cooking and I’m proud to be part of a movement of chefs who are redefining what Chinese food is. New-school dumplings like my cheeseburger dumpling are a great way to tell this new story. So are NFT dumplings.”
She’s not the only chef to see potential in the space. Big names like Tom Colicchio and Spike Mendelsohn have been entering the metaverse, too. Restaurants like Brooklyn Chop House and Flyfish Club from Gary Vaynerchuk’s VCR Group have both begun or will start functioning around the end of summer/fall 2022 as private clubs or have private sections, with the former offering memberships that cost up to $1 million.
But Chung has a plan to use her entry into the metaverse for something more wholesome.
This is all being done to market Ms Chi Café, with the help of a community that she has been building since 2017, when she launched the Dumpling Mafia along with friend Andy Wang. At the time it was just a passion for really good dumplings in the Los Angeles area.
When followers were asking how to become a part of the movement, the two hatched an idea. And what started as a hashtag (#DumplingMafia) on Instagram became an NFT.
An NFT, or non-fungible token, is a piece of currency that can vary in price, as opposed to a fungible token like a dollar bill or bitcoin that is fixed in price. The purchase of these NFTs — which are often designs, like the dumpling animations by Narrator for this collection — grants the consumer either access to join a club or the ability to exchange it for goods or services.
The selection will include 88 unique Dumpling Mafia Boss character NFTs and 888 Dumpling Mafia membership cards with at least five different designs. The NFTs feature his signature whimsical style depicting happy dumplings and baby “pig dragons” — Chung’s Chinese zodiac sign is the Dragon, and her husband’s is the Pig.
The NFTs will be available for purchase exclusively at Coin Cloud’s website.
“The thing about a restaurant is that a restaurant is four walls. The thing about a chef like Shirley Chung is she’s much bigger than that,” Chung’s business partner Wang told Coin Cloud. “She’s on Instagram, she’s on TV, so why can’t she be in the metaverse, too?”
Contact Holly Petre at [email protected]