Vietnamese queer baker Vivi Nguyen spreads 'radical joy' with pastries

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ByWill Jones via WLS logo
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
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Since opening their online pastry business two years ago in New Orleans, Vivi Nguyen has been making food that reflects the intersections of their own identity.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The cakes at Radical Joy Bakery are made with vanilla, flour, eggs and joy.

"It's a radical act for me to say, I'm going to do what brings me and other people joy," said owner Vivi Nguyen.

Nguyen inspires others as a queer, Vietnamese business owner, and they do it all without formal training.

"I don't really see a lot of queer bakers, I definitely don't see enough queer Brown bakers, I definitely don't see any Vietnamese bakers, and so I was like: I can do this," Nguyen said.

Since opening their online pastry business two years ago in New Orleans, Nguyen has been making food that reflects the intersections of their own identity. They once combined Vietnamese iced coffee with carrot cake.

"It's very distinctly Vietnamese, very distinctly American, so something like that really is, playful, and it showcases a little bit of my identity," they said.

Now Nguyen is helping people in Chicago have important conversations through food.

"Oh like, this is for my dad, and we're working on our relationship, I came out as gay last year and I want him to understand like, this is a celebration of who I am," said Nguyen.

Nguyen also used baked good to raise money for social causes.

"You're instilling your love and care for other people into that act," they said.

Uplifting others is part of their recipe for life.

"These moments, which seem so small, are so meaningful to me. When people share their experiences and how something like a cake makes them feel is amazing," Nguyen said.

Nguyen hopes to spread more joy in the future with their first brick and mortar location.