It’s Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and each week in May, SideDish will highlight someone of AAPI heritage within Dallas’ food industry. North Texas is no stranger to all kinds of Asian American and Pacific Islander foods, so let’s meet the people behind the scenes.
This week we’re featuring Vi Henderson, the owner of a McKinney macaron pop-up shop called Mac & Cream. Henderson is a second-generation Asian American and is of Vietnamese heritage. She’s been making fancy macarons of all shapes and sizes for seven years and jumped into the business full-time during the pandemic. You may have seen her macarons on Instagram or at special AAPI celebrations. Soon, Henderson will supply macarons for Meow Wolf Grapevine.
This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.
What’s the best thing about what you do?
Vi Henderson: The best thing about what I do is that it’s something that I’m passionate about and something through which I can express my creativity. Another great thing about it is that with it, I’m able to fulfill my purpose in serving the community. The third best is it’s something that pays the bills.
Acknowledging that you are part of the AAPI community is prevalent in your work. Why?
VH: It’s important for me to step out of the shadows to really represent my community because I want to show that I am a living example [as] a minority and as a woman to be able to accomplish the things that I do and [am] able to do. I think it’s really important for minorities and women to really step out there and empower young folks to show them that they can do so much. They don’t have to always have to pursue what people think they should do. We should really empower them to do something that they’re passionate in.
Doing something they’re passionate in can also afford them the ability to give back to the community. And I think really fulfilling those three areas in life is what will bring them the greatest fulfillment, not just in their career, but in their personal life.
I really feel like more of us minorities and women in the business industry or food industry should really step out and be a representation for our communities, so [that] we can inspire others to follow their own path, maintain their own path, and not have to be so distracted and what society tells them they have to do.
How do you connect your heritage with your work?
VH: You can do so much with [macarons]. A lot of my flavors are Asian-inspired. A lot of it is actually inspired by my childhood—what I grew up with—and so I try to really bring out more diverse, unique flavors, to kind of bring more of an awareness to my culture.
Some Asian-inspired flavors on Mac & Cream’s macaron menu include ube, coconut pandan, Vietnamese coffee, lychee, and matcha.
And I also have tried to do different characters and a lot of Asian pop culture and a lot of designs that represent, for instance, Lunar New Year. The designs are actually also inspired by the things that I grew up with. I try to take some of what I grew up with and make my own characters. The reason I do a lot of this is because I want to paint my community to be a little bit more colorful. And it’s my way of asserting not just my individuality but asserting what I represent in my community.
In what ways do you support AAPI communities through what you do?
VH: There is an AAPI nonprofit organization that we try to, from time to time, raise funds to donate to. And then during the AAPI Awareness Month, we participate in several festivals or events, too, to help draw some of our customer base in those areas that raise more awareness to our culture.
And, of course, every year we highlight Lunar New Year. That helps raise awareness [among] our customer base who isn’t Asian. And we love that our customers are drawn to us and they stay with us because they love learning about different cultures, and they love that we are inclusive and [that] we support not just our own but other cultures.
Last year, Mac & Cream helped raise funds for AAPI Women Lead, a nationwide nonprofit that helps girls and women of AAPI heritage with leadership in their communities. This year, Mac & Cream is taking a local approach and working with Under My Umbrella, an AAPI-led organization in Allen that tackles food insecurity.