Meet Molly Yeh of My Name Is Yeh
November 17, 2013
Molly Yeh refuses to be backed into any one corner, and so does her blog. The bubbly personality behind My Name is Yeh is not only an avowed foodie—she’s contributed to Food52 and Time Out New York’s food section, among others—but she earned a percussion degree from Juilliard and charts international territory on the regular as a savvy world-traveler. Best of all, though, Molly loves to document the food she makes, the places she goes, and the never-boring sights she sees, always with the assistance of her razor-sharp Canon DSLR. Currently working as a baker in North Dakota while living on a sugar beet farm with her boyfriend (he was a Juilliard trombonist), she has made previous homes in Chicago as well as New York. Find her cake-decorating, music-making, and globetrotting on Twitter, Facebook, Bloglovin’, Instagram, and Pinterest.
We love reading about your mouthwatering dishes, as well as your international travels! Tell us about yourself and My Name is Yeh.
I’ve kept a diary since the day I could write and I’ve loved food since the day I could eat. So My Name Is Yeh is a result of the two. I have this need to document everything in my life (I don’t really know for whom… aliens in the future, probably), and I also have these needs to always eat the best food possible and see the coolest places possible. So I just do exactly that whenever I can.
How does your interest in food and photography influence the way you travel, and vice versa?
It means I can’t carry cute handbags when I travel because I have to lug around my camera. But it also gives me really great direction when I travel. When I plan a trip, I always just Google-search for the best food that city has to offer, or I ask the locals when I get there. Locals always have good advice when it comes to getting the best food. And then I also love planning trips specifically to find good food. That wasn’t always totally necessary when I lived in New York, but now that I live in North Dakota, I find myself tempted to book a ticket to Chicago for the weekend just so I can have some deep dish pizza. (Oh, and see my mom.)
What’s your favorite stamp on your passport, and what’s one stamp you’re hoping to get?
This summer I got stopped at customs in Hong Kong because of a long and uneventful story. I got to sit in one of those holding rooms that I’d only ever seen in the movies and it was really quite exciting! They put a bunch of marks on my passport and I like them because they’re not your typical passport stamp.
There is also the little slip of paper that you get when you go to Israel. It’s not a stamp, just a removable post-it type of thing. I’ve heard it’s because other countries in the Middle East won’t let you in if you have an Israeli stamp. I wish this weren’t the case, I wish this could be a real stamp, but I do cherish this piece of paper.
And then the stamp I’m hoping to get… I’d like to get a North Korean stamp, or I’d at least like that to be a remote possibility.
We know you’ve lived in Chicago as well as New York. What are your favorite restaurants—and spas, hotels, bars, or sights, if you have any—in each?
Chicago: Lou Malnati’s; Au Cheval; any hole-in-the-wall Mexican place; Little Goat; and anywhere one can get a big fat hot dog, like a White Sox game. As far as bars… I enjoy the Wicker Park hang, although most of my time spent in Chicago was in my underage years. Aside from a slice of Lou Malnati’s pizza, a top priority when in Chicago is seeing the Chicago Symphony.
New York: Keste for pizza, the Schnitzel & Things truck, any cheap banh mi, the 96th Street taco truck, Korea Town for barbecue, Birdbath chocolate chip cookies, Shake Shack, Minetta Tavern, Roberta’s, Briskettown, Marlow and Daughters/Sons, Brooklyn Larder. I think I got the best massage of my life at D’Mai Spa in Park Slope. Ooh and Bargemusic and the Brooklyn Bridge and biking and dim sum and Carnegie Hall… I’m becoming overwhelmed thinking about all the things in New York. See? This is why I needed to get out.
What are your favorite foods that you’ve eaten during your travels outside Chicago and New York, and at what restaurants (or markets, or street carts, if applicable!) did you eat them?
Hummus in Tel Aviv at Abu Hassan, sugar-coated pork buns at Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong, a cardamom bun on top of a mountain in Norway, this pickled herring sandwich from a guy who’s been around for, like, a million years in Amsterdam, and I had such good meals at Paco Meralgo and La Vinateria del Call in Barcelona. Also every falafel I ate in Berlin was a winner. Oh my God, and St. John in London… and then I almost missed my plane out of London for a hot salted beef bagel from the Biegel Bake on Brick Lane, and it was completely worth it. And then I had a beautifully wonderful meal in the little town of Lewes, East Sussex at a place called the Pelham Arms. If ever I opened a restaurant, it would be like the Pelham Arms.
We know the summer of 2013 was a whirlwind season of travel for you. Tell us about the amazing places you visited and what made you choose them.
Ooh yes! This was a fun one. I played with the Hong Kong Philharmonic in May. It was my second time in Hong Kong and I love it so much; It’s such an exciting city and people aren’t afraid to break the rules, so there are really awesome speakeasies and private kitchens you can order 3am Nepalese dumplings from. I also discovered this street lined with kitchen supply stores where you could buy a trillion striped cupcake liners for the equivalent to, like, USD 1. It was heaven.
I also went to Israel on the Culinary Birthright trip. THAT was amazing. The food is amazing, the people that I was with were amazing, and the country is such a beautiful place. I’d love to go back, live on a kibbutz, and eat hummus for three meals a day every day.
My family also goes to La Jolla almost every summer, so that was fun and sunny. I also moved! So I spent some time in New York packing my stuff and also teaching a bit, and then my boyfriend and I drove back to North Dakota with stops along the way in the Berkshires and Chicago. No summer is complete without a trip to the Berkshires to see the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Are there any other travel blogs that you love to follow (besides The Diary of The Purple Passport, of course)?
I mostly follow a bunch of food blogs—and it seems like food bloggers are also big into traveling, so I love following along on their travels. Joy Felicity Jane just had some great Barcelona travels and Dolly and Oatmeal just got back from Berlin and Ashlae from Oh Ladycakes does a ton of traveling.