TCM Chef and Nutritionist Zoey Gong's Guide to Glowing Skin

Interview Series

Who: Zoey Xinyi Gong
Specialty: TCM chef and food therapist, registered dietician, and co-founder of The Red Pavilion
Location: Brooklyn, NYC

Who is Zoey Xinyi Gong?

Zoey Gong is a New York-based Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) chef, food therapist, registered dietitian, author and educator who has built a loyal following for sharing recipes and wellness tips rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine. 

We first met Zoey many years ago when she was just starting her TCM pop-up dinners, and now she's the co-founder of The Red Pavilion — a neo-noir speakeasy in Brooklyn that's dedicated to amplifying the representation of Asian voices and AAPI cultural identity. 

Between running her own business, managing her social media community, and hosting workshops, it makes you wonder how she does it all so gracefully and radiantly. We're thrilled to catch up with her to see how TCM has helped heal her wellbeing and skin. 

TCM in Modern Wellness

How did you get acquainted with TCM?

I became acquainted with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) through my upbringing in Shanghai. TCM has always been an integral part of my family's lifestyle there. I have fond memories of my grandmother incorporating ingredients like longan and goji berries into our meals for overall health. However, when I moved to the United States as a teenager and encountered health challenges, nothing seemed to effectively address my issues until I made a pivotal change in my diet. This transformative experience with the healing potential of food motivated me to pursue my B.S. in nutrition and public health at New York University.

During my studies, I explored TCM principles and philosophy of food as life-nourishing (Yang Sheng). This shifted my approach to nutrition, emphasizing balance, seasonality, and individuality over rigid, calculated diets.

How has TCM impacted your life?

In regards to food, my perspective on nutrition underwent a transformation through my journey. My personal food pyramid shifted from salads, California fish, and olive oil to include foods that truly made me happy—such as beef tendon, bone broth, and herbal teas. I now practice a form of food therapy that emphasizes individualized nourishment and joy.

My skin has not always been like this. I struggled with acne from when I was 10 years old all the way until I was 25. Nothing worked for me until I made pivotal dietary changes. The key to curing my acne was finding my dairy allergy and adjusting my imbalances of dampness heat. I never took birth control to clear my skin, TCM herbs and a simple skincare routine was all I needed. YINA products are complex in medicinal herbs, but straightforward to use—it's one of the reasons why I love incorporating them to my routines. 

As a TCM nutritionist and chef, what are your top five favorite herbs for beauty and why?

Five TCM herbs that I adore and use almost every day for beauty are tremella mushroom, black sesame, rose buds, goji berries, and hawthorn berries. 

  • Tremella Snow Fungus nourishes yin, relieve dryness, hydrate the skin, improve skin elasticity, and promote longevity. It contains beneficial and unique alkaloids and polysaccharides that have been proven to support these functions. 
  • Black sesame nourishes Kidney and Blood to promote healthy skin and hair.
  • Rose buds are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties which are great for the skin. Enjoy a cup of warm rose tea before bed to improve sleep quality.
  • Goji berries are also packed with antioxidants and vitamins to boost the immune system, nourish the eyes, and slow down aging. This herb is so versatile, you can add it to soups, oatmeals, stir-fries, and even desserts!
  • Hawthorn berries help promote healthy digestion. Enjoy after large meals to prevent food stagnation which can cause skin issues like acne. 

How do you incorporate these herbs? What are some of your favorite recipes?

These herbs are pantry staples that you can easily add to your meals. For example, you can add a spoonful of black sesame powder and a few goji berries to your morning oatmeal. I also have many recipes in my cookbook if you’re interested in learning more about TCM nutrition.

Are there any specific wellness practices that you find particularly beneficial for your overall well-being?

Aside from cooking nourishing meals, I really enjoy reading and learning about Chinese philosophy and Taoism. I also do meditation or sound baths in the morning before I start my work day.

Do you have any favorite products from YINA? If so, what do you love about them?

I love YINA’s Essential Mist and Hydracloud Cream. I use them in my morning and night routines. They’re simple and luxurious, and packed with so many lovely TCM herbs to soothe, balance, and nourish my skin.