Three years ago, a venture-backed startup in Santa Monica, California, calledTastemade turned to the Internet to broadcast its own original content about all things food and drink, challenging the glut of culinary-themed shows already on cable television.
"I was amazed and surprised," Hsieh said, recalling the moment she received an email from Tastemade asking to meet in person.
Hsieh, a 36-year-old housewife with a degree in engineering, joins more than 1,000 food enthusiasts known as “tastemakers,” many of them self-starters plucked from YouTube, who are collaborating with Tastemade to create food programming tailored to audiences from around the world.
Funded by Scripps Networks Interactive, Liberty Media and Comcast Ventures, among others, Tastemade has already released Portuguese-language programming in Brazil, using an Apple TV app, said Tastemade spokeswoman Laurie Thornton. The company is also exploring ways to expand in Asia, Tastemade co-founder Steven Kydd told NBC News in an email.
"I say I want to be the Asian Martha Stewart"
Hsieh’s debut video, which aired July 1 on YouTube, is in Mandarin and teaches viewers how to make a popular Taiwanese snack known as guabao, or steamed pork buns. The secret to succulent pork, Hsieh tells her audience, is using cola. Its carbonic acid, she says, helps soften the meat and allows the marinade -- made with soy sauce, garlic, rice wine and sesame oil -- to better penetrate the pork.
In Taiwan, Hsieh first made a name for herself after starting her own blog in 2011, on which she shares recipes, cooking tips and techniques with readers, many of them mothers. To date, it has recorded more than 12 million views, and her Facebook page has 263,000 fans, Hsieh said.
With two young daughters, Hsieh, who once worked in public relations, said she believes in making recipes that are simple yet tasty. In cookbooks she has written and on her blog, Hsieh often favors dishes that can be made all in one pot or that aren't too time consuming. That, she said, led some of her husband's coworkers, at Samsung in California, to affectionately dub her the "Taiwanese Rachael Ray."
But Hsieh had another TV personality in mind.
"I say I want to be the Asian Martha Stewart," Hsieh said, laughing.