On the Line: Phillip Chang of Yogurtland, Part One

Yogurtland_phillipcup.jpg
Courtesy of Yogurtland

We are used to some unique personalities here at On the Line. Phillip Chang was not only cool, but also calm and collected. I dropped by Yogurtland headquarters in Anaheim to understand his driven personality. What I got was a new level of respect for a pioneer in the frozen yogurt industry. Love his response to most undervalued ingredient.

Your earliest food memory:
The rice cake that my grandmother made for me when I was 7.

Favorite meal growing up:
The Korean pancake that has cinnamon, brown sugar and peanuts in it.

Your best recent food find:
Mangosteen in Indonesia.

Most undervalued ingredient:
In our yogurt, it's our team, not a food ingredient. I think we have some of the best talent in the industry that makes the most delicious and innovative frozen yogurt. Our flavors are proprietary, and we put a lot of thought into each flavor and finding the best ingredients.

Yogurtland believes in control, choice and creativity. How did you come up with the concept?
I created Boba Loca prior to Yogurtland. Through that experience, I saw the customer's desire to customize orders and thought we could take that idea further. I started to offer self-serve frozen yogurt in a Boba Loca in Fullerton and received such great feedback and results that I decided to expand.

You're in the U.S., Guam and Mexico. What's next?
We are expanding quickly throughout the U.S. and plan to continue this momentum internationally. Up next, Venezuela! We get inquiries from around the world, but we are very selective.

What fast food do you admit to eating?
The Habit Burger. It is product with quality and value.

What is your beverage of choice, and where do you get it?
Iced vanilla latte at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

How often do you rotate flavors?
We launch two limited-time-only flavors every month -- one sweet and one tart. We also produce other new seasonal flavors throughout the year.

Can you explain probiotics and live active cultures?
Our frozen yogurt contains probiotics and live and active cultures, just like the cup-style yogurt in your refrigerator. They are living microorganisms that are associated with health benefits and aid in digestion.

One food you can't live without and why:
For 21 years, I lived in Korea. No Korean could live without kimchi.

Where was your most recent meal? What did you have?
I was at Flame Broiler, and I had a beef bowl with spicy sauce and white rice -- though I get brown rice when my wife is around.

Any new flavors you can share for summer?
[Editor's Note: We're saving this sweet announcement for Part Three. Check back Thursday!]

What do you think of people who take photographs of their food?
It's cool. I think you have that passion toward the food. I do it, too. I just got back from Singapore, Indonesia and Korea. I had a few different dishes that I took pictures of.

Weirdest thing you've ever eaten:
I think it was in Taiwan. I always enjoy going to the traditional markets. I tried fried scorpions on a stick and pan-fried crickets. It was crispy. Just a very unique taste. I did it for the experience, but I wouldn't eat either again.

Your preferred flavor combination:
Coconut and pistachio.

You're making breakfast. What are you having?
My time is very tight. I'm up at 5 a.m., exercising and doing emails before heading to the office. When there's time, I'll have warm soup similar to chicken noodle. But most of the time, I'll have a pastry and coffee. Sometimes, I'll have cereal.

Weirdest customer request, (and did you do it?):
We tried peanut butter and jelly. We were trying to make a typical peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich flavor, but it was hard. We did do it, though.


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