Our Name - 50Hertz
When scientists at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London studied Sichuan Pepper, they found that the “frequency of the tingling induced by Sichuan Pepper was consistently at around 50 Hertz”, giving rise to our company’s name.
The tingling, numbing, sensation is caused by a molecule called hydroxy-α-sanshool. While humans have nerve endings all over our skin, this aromatic molecule can only reach those nerve receptors where the skin is very thin, such as on the mouth and lips. This is why we experience a stimulating pleasant sensation when tasting Sichuan Pepper.
We believe that Sichuan pepper and its unique tingly sensation will strike a chord with world foodies. It is the next flavor sensation in the culinary world. We want to tell you more about this unsung spice and explore together innovative uses.
Hello! My name is Yao Zhao. I founded 50Hertz with a simple belief of sharing Sichuan pepper and its tingly numbing sensation with foodies worldwide. I believe that this unique spice from my hometown can go beyond Chinese food and become a new addition to the global culinary world. During a visit to Chongqing for Chinese New Year, my mum made a cucumber salad using local green Sichuan pepper oil. The iconic combination of floral aroma and tingling sensation was a visceral reminder of my upbringing in Chongqing in the 1990s in China. I returned to the U.S. with a bottle. After serving one of Thomas Keller’s mushroom pasta recipes at a dinner party, I offered my guests green Sichuan pepper oil as a condiment. Everyone loved the tingling sensation and the floral aroma that matched well with the umami flavor from the Parmesan cheese and the earthiness of the mushrooms. This discovery made me realize Sichuan pepper offers such a unique flavor and novel sensation that it shouldn't just stay in Chinese cuisines.
I started with our green Sichuan pepper oil in April 2020. The first pivotal moment for the business came only after 2 months. The New York Times recognized its novelty, describing it as "an oil that tingles and transforms". We sold tens of thousands of bottles overnight. What's more amazing was that it proved my idea that people welcome a numbing sensation in their foods. They have been using it in their pasta, ramen, pizzas, and even popcorn!
Introducing a new flavor and sensation will take years of education and marketing. While it’s daunting, I feel excited about this challenge and opportunity. This is a cause that needs someone to inject energy behind it, and I want to be that Sichuan pepper guy!
“The Sichuan pepper guy”
Born and raised in Chongqing, China, I was a good, typical, Chinese student. After being selected as one of the 20 diplomatic trainees across China, I started attending the foreign service college in Beijing. Shortly after graduation, it became clear to me that I didn't want to pursue a government job, so I took a gap year and backpacked throughout Southeast Asia and India, during which I applied for graduate school and got into Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in DC.
I devoted the first 10 years of my career to clean energy development and rural electrification, first with Rockefeller Foundation in India, then with International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi, and finally with the World Bank in Washington DC.
After successfully applying for my US green card via the "genius visa", I realized I really enjoyed piecing together various resources and "building something". That experience sparked my innate entrepreneurial spirit.
When I am not reaching out to customers or battling supply chains, my main hobbies are downhill skiing and scuba diving – Zanzibar, Okinawa, Strait of Hormuz, the Maldives, and Raja Ampat are many of his favorite spots.
Singaporean by birth and pork dumplings by diet, I spent my younger years in Australia before returning to Singapore. Unlike Yao’s story above, I was a terrible student and after years of skipping classes and feeling unmotivated, I decided that I could no longer see myself being a lawyer. So after I graduated with my diploma in Law, I ran halfway across the globe to Florida to pursue a degree in Communications. The world around me lit up and I finally felt interested in what I was learning. I loved it so much that I decided to go even further by pursuing a Masters in Communications, Culture, and Technology at Georgetown University in Washington DC.Upon graduation, I started working as a Communications Analyst with The World Bank's Sustainable Development Vice Presidential Unit and later in the Africa region. On the side, I would host Supper clubs and run my own small food delivery service. But after 10 years in the U.S. and an increasing amount of asian hate violence, I got tired of explaining my existence and decided to move back to Singapore to become a Senior Manager with the Singapore Prime Minister's Office (Strategy Group). But clearly there were greater pulls than the throes of bureaucracy...
So after much emotional struggle and budgeting, I decided to quit my stable job to devote my life to everything food related. When I’m not helping Yao introduce 50Hertz to the US, I’m working on building my own "Loisagna" empire by introducing Singaporeans to my version of the beef lasagne!
Chief Strategy Officer
“The ideas person”