Sunnyvale resident Catherine Wong has turned her background into a business. Although only open just shy of three years, Wong’s online bakery, Cat Cat’s Nom Nom, takes her education in food science and makes delectable treats in the form of macarons, cupcakes and cookies.
“I’ve always liked food,” she said. “My family likes to cook and feed and have gatherings. Food has always been a part of my life. I wanted to go to culinary school, but my parents wanted me to have a minimum of a four-year degree. When I was going to college, I wanted to see what I could do that would allow me to work with food.”
Wong said that during her time at University of California, Davis, she was able to expand her creativity in the kitchen through product development courses. Upon graduation, she began working as a food scientist, but her two-hour commute was taking its toll, ultimately leading her — with her husband’s encouragement — to open an online storefront.
“It was scary to quit my job and leave the stability,” Wong said. “The first year was nerve-wracking. It was overwhelming. It was hard starting this business and I’m still learning how to run a business and it makes sense for me [to have an online storefront] because it doesn’t use as many resources as if I were to open an actual storefront. I’m trying to give myself a better chance of success.”
Using her own recipes and serving some unique flavor combinations, like the surprising “Signature Nori” macaron — a nori-flavored crispy shell filled with soy sauce buttercream — and a black sesame cookie, Cat Cat’s Nom Nom opened in June 2016.
“When I was trying to open up my business, I had to think about what would make my product unique,” Wong said. “I grew up in [Myanmar] so these flavors came naturally to me. They’re familiar and what I like. I wanted to put those in forms that were familiar to Western taste buds. There are a lot of Asians in the Bay Area and I feel like these flavors were underrepresented for the longest time. My flavors are something people can relate too, but not too far off that they would be put off by it.”
Even though not everyone has a taste for nori, Wong has plenty of approachable flavors including yuzu citrus, Thai tea, matcha green tea, roasted black sesame, rose and double chocolate macarons; Thai tea, green tea and chocolate chip cookies; and chocolate, lemon, pumpkin spice, strawberry and mint chocolate cupcakes.
Her talents, however, go beyond basic baking, as she takes the difficult process of making macarons and ups the ante with custom macaron creations. First created for her niece’s birthday party, the concept quickly became a hit with customers as soon as Wong posted photos to her social media accounts. Soon, custom designed treats became a large part of Wong’s business and she creates them for everything from birthdays to weddings.
“Baking is a creative outlet for me as well as a way for me to spread happiness,” said Wong. “I do this mainly because I enjoy it. I care about all of my products going out and quality control is important. The best part of my job is to see smiles and happy faces when my customers are enjoying something I’ve created. If I can tantalize their palates, impart new flavor profiles and bridge cultures, that’s bonus.”
Wong said she hopes to add vegan options to her offerings in the near future. Visit catcatsnomnom.com to see a complete list of offerings or place an order. Follow Wong on Instagram or Twitter at @catcatsnomnom or like her at facebook.com/catcatsnomnom.