Meet: House of Dumplings

. February 19, 2017
Meet: House of Dumplings

Before her very first market stall, Vicky Ha spent the entire night hand-crafting each and every delicious little dumpling using her mother's own recipe.

Vicky Ha is passionate about dumplings, that much is obvious. What began as a means of entertaining close friends and family, has since morphed into a verified dumpling empire. Using her mother's tried-and-true family recipes, late nights soon turned into early mornings spent hand-crafting flavoursome little pockets of deliciousness.

Here, the reigning queen of dumplings dishes on her humble market stall beginnings and why she believes when it comes to produce, we should all go local.

Tell me a bit about how House of Dumplings came about?

When I was a larder chef back at Caffe L'affare, I invited a few of my chef mates over for dinner. I made some dumplings and dipping sauce, using Mum’s recipes. They told me there was nothing like that out there and I should seriously consider selling my dumplings commercially. 

Soon after that, I moved to The Gulf of Carpentaria in Australia, to work a tiger prawns season as a cook on the boat. It was the toughest thing I have experienced in my life and I got really sea sick. But on the plus side, I did come home with $20,000 in my pocket. I used my earnings as the financial capital I needed to start House of Dumplings. We originally called it Dumpling House, but changed our name about six months after we started."


Dumplings and salad day #realfood #xero

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"So, I did my research, I played around with a few things and eventually developed a range of flavours and matched them with different pastries. I created my own logo, stamped my own business cards and presented my work to Martin Bosley and Rachel Taulelei from City Market in Wellington. They invited me to trial for the open kitchen and the rest is history."

How has your mum influenced your love of food?

"I think like most kids, your palate and flavour orientation develops when you're young. I'm the same, I love Mum’s healthy, yummy stir-fries and classic stew. In Hong Kong, food is very important. People greet one another by saying 'have you had dinner yet?'. We are massive foodies.

I would describe Mum’s food as clean and all about the finer details. She would julienne her veges like perfect little match sticks – who does that at home? Her massive Chinese chopper knife is pretty scary, but it delivers precision cutting. Mum would always say 'you only eat three meals a day, so you have to eat the best you can.'"

You’re an advocate for using fresh, locally sourced produce. Why do you believe going local is so important?

I love the beauty of being able to actually talk to my local producers, face-to-face. I love hearing their ups and downs. Like when they tell you 'we won't be able to get any savoy cabbage due to the lack of rainfall', or 'our garlic chives are not ready yet, they're too short because of the cold weather'.

Or when the big mama pig gives birth to a bunch of piglets and the pigs aren't big enough yet and we have to wait another two weeks for them to be ready for our dumplings. The stories that happen behind the scenes are cool, it helps us understand where our produce comes from. It makes me appreciate all the blood, sweat and tears that goes in to the produce we use. But most importantly,  we're supporting our local economy and keeping the profit within the region. Going local means less food miles and fresher produce, so it's a no-brainer, really."

What advice would you offer a budding hospitality entrepreneur?

"Work hard and then work even harder. Don’t lose yourself in the process of it all. Treat your staff like you yourself would want to be treated, without them, you are nothing. Keep your feet on the ground and stay humble. Do the best you can do and do what you can afford. Keep a good support team around you, whether that's your partner or your mentor. You will always need their support, you can’t do it all. Be nice to the people you meet, our industry is tiny, so everyone knows everyone."

To learn more about Vicky Ha and House of Dumplings, see their website right here.