Seattle Kat Lieu, the founder of online community Subtle Asian Baking, is selling Japanese souffle cheesecakes (like the one pictured, made with ube) and Basque cheesecakes to raise money to fight anti-Asian hate. Jake Young
The group’s founders, based in Seattle, are raising money for the Very Asian Foundation and other organizations with bake sales across the globe
Kat Lieu started the Subtle Asian Baking Facebook group with a few of her close friends while stuck indoors in Seattle at the beginning of the pandemic. At the time, she was working as a physical therapist, and, like many other Americans, used baking as a way to relax during a stressful time; she wanted to connect with other like-minded home bakers safely, online.
The Facebook group, where bakers would share Asian baking recipes, grew rapidly, reaching over 60,000 members by the end of 2020. Burnt out from working in health care, Lieu quit her job and dedicated herself to Subtle Asian Baking and started a popular Instagram page and TikTok account.
But when rates of anti-Asian hate crimes started rising in 2020 and 2021, particularly after the shootings of Asian women in Atlanta spas in March 2021, Liu became afraid to go about Seattle on her own, worried that she’d be the next victim of anti-Asian racism. Her female Asian friends in New York were also scared to go out, especially in Chinatown, where many of the hate crimes were occurring. So she decided to use her now-powerful platform to make a change.
Lieu rallied her online community to do bake sales across the globe, raising $10,000 for New York City Chinatown organization Welcome to Chinatown, which used the money to provide 1,000 hot meals for food-insecure people in the area, and $5,000 for Double Crispy Bakery, a struggling Asian-owned business in New York. This year, she’s donating money to the Very Asian Foundation and Heart of Dinner (an organization that feeds food-insecure elderly Asian people in New York City) with another online fundraiser that’s running until the end of May, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. She says the community now has 300,000 followers and members across platforms; she hopes to raise at least $10,000 with this year’s fundraiser.
“Since I’ve started Subtle Asian Baking, I work from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep,” Lieu says. “We do everything we can.” Lieu says she decided to do another fundraiser this year when she received scores of racist comments on TikTok videos and Instagram reels and as Asian women, like Michele Go and Christina Yuna Lee, continued to be murdered.
Kat Lieu is the founder of Subtle Asian Baking, an organization that’s raising money for Stop AAPI Hate and the Very Asian Foundation with bake sales all over the world. Jake Young
Lieu was also inspired by former King 5 news anchor Michelle Li, who received national press coverage and a spot on The Ellen DeGeneres Show when a caller left a voicemail telling her she was “being very Asian” and to “keep her Korean to herself,” after Li talked about eating dumplings in a television segment on a St.