How Panda Express’ Jimmy Wang spreads Chinese culture through food

As executive director of culinary innovation for the 2,500-unit chain, Wang creates dishes that tell a story—a mission that takes on extra importance during Lunar New Year.

When Jimmy Wang started at Panda Express in 2014, the now executive director of culinary innovation already had many years of experience in top hotel kitchens and operating his own restaurant.

Jimmy Wang

Jimmy Wang

At Panda Express, Wang and his team look to create dishes that tell a story. They apply the chain’s menu mantra—“Chinese Flavors with American Tastes”—to every item they develop, and recent successes include Black Pepper Angus Steak and Plant-Based Orange Chicken.

Lunar New Year, which begins on Jan. 22, has always been a big deal for Panda Express, and this year, the chain is offering special family feasts with symbolic foods, digital games with prizes and an expanded interactive cultural package for educators.

Listen as Wang describes what each of these foods means, shares how he celebrates with his own extended family, describes his R&D process and talks about what’s next—including an exciting culinary exploration trip to Taiwan, where Wang’s family has roots, with some of his team.

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