Born in Taipei, Taiwan, and raised just south of Los Angeles, California, Fred “Freddy” Chang did not always know he wanted to one day open a bakery. As a kid, Freddy wanted to be an artist, specifically a painter or illustrator, after becoming a huge fan of Japanese styles of animation – yes, he was one of those weeboo nerds as a kid, and even as an adult with no shame. However, being a mischievous little troublemaker that he was, doing fine such as hand painting and sketching, wound up not being a perfect fit for him. He never liked to color in the lines, or follow instructions. He liked doing things the way he preferred, not the way he was told or taught to; while it got him in trouble a lot as a kid, this habit helped shape Freddy into the creative individual he is today.
Growing up, Freddy was always a slight misfit, even beyond the classroom. He found himself being forced to shelter aspects of himself to fit in with the different crowds of people he went to school with. Whether it be hiding his love for video games, specifically the Pokemon franchise, to fit in with his athletic friends, or pretending to be an intellectual when he was actually a straight-B Asian when it came to honors and APs just so that he could hang out with the smart kids, he knew he did not fit in 100% with almost any of his peers at the time.
Cooking did not become a point of interest for Freddy until he started high school and realized that college applications would be coming up. He was not a particularly remarkable Asian male, which meant that he would be screwed come senior year when he needed to get into a decent college. While it initially started as a hobby to make himself stand out from the other John Lee’s and Kevin Park’s of his high school, baking became an all-consuming quality for him. Freddy would spend every day practicing different recipes and learning as much as he could from binge-watching any food-related media he could.
Initially, Freddy cooked only vegan desserts, because his Buddhist mother abhorred butter, but since then, he has been able to branch out into American, European, and Asian pastries of all kinds, vegan or not. Eventually, he got to the point with pastry where he could create his own recipes, based on an understanding of what each ingredient does in a recipe. It was not until he turned 17, however, that Freddy branched out into the savory kitchen. It first started with meeting chef Wolfgang Puck at Spago in Beverly Hills. Being invited into the 2-star Michelin kitchen of a culinary icon was an eye-opening experience and one that cemented Freddy’s resolve to enroll in Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration so that he could pursue a career in Food & Beverage. It was his experiences there where his love of cooking quickly blossomed.
Since graduating high school, Freddy had worked in several kitchens, including those under award-winning chefs such as James Beard Award nominee Peter McCarthy, James Beard Award winner Frank McClelland, Michelin starred chef David Myers, and Dominique Ansel himself. Additionally, Freddy was previously the editor-in-chief of TasteBUds, Boston University’s first and only student-run food publication, as well as a culinary instructor for Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration, where he taught fellow Hospitality students in the Principals of Food Production Management course. In both positions, he had the honor of passing down his love and passion to a new generation of food-lovers and cooks.
Now you may be wondering, “well that’s a shit-ton of information about the ‘Freddy’ part of ‘Freddy’s Harajuku’, but what about the ‘Harajuku’ half?” And if you weren’t, please pretend that you were, because that would make this following part a lot less weird. It was not until his sophomore year studying Hospitality Administration at Boston University that Fred discovered his appreciation for the Harajuku district of Japan. Harajuku is known in Japan as the center of youth culture and fashion. To Freddy, it was the driving force in everything that was trendy, chic, and unorthodox about modern Japanese living. It was actually falling in love with this concept of what he saw Harajuku as that inspired Freddy to be more adventurous when it came to his plating style.
Since being inspired by the district and what it stands for, it had become Freddy’s dream to open up his own bakery in Harajuku, alongside culinary greats like the iconic Dominique Ansel and chef Bobbie Lloyd of Magnolia Bakery. To help with his goals, he pursued, in addition to his Food & Beverage focus, a minor in Business Management, as well as another focus in Accounting and Finance. While many would not understand the correlation between accounting and baking, to Freddy, both concepts use numbers, ratios and math, the one thing he actually was good at in terms of conventional school subjects. Additionally, he wanted to find a lucrative way to start up his own business and manage the entire bakery from all levels and aspects.
While being able to open a bakery may seem like a lifetime away, Freddy decided to start his own blog, Freddy’s Harajuku, so that he could share his own recipes and love for cooking with those who are interested in learning baking. He hopes to bring a sense of whimsy and creativity with his dishes and desserts, and in turn, teach those around him that cooking and baking is not a scary thing, but rather, can be another art form from which you can express yourself. Freddy promises, as the Harajuku Baker Boy, to deliver unique and fun interpretations on dishes, some familiar, others, not so much, that really do embody the district he fell so much in love with.