The Centered Cover Story: Meet The Ripplemaker

Ping Chu RippleMaker

Katherine Young interviewed me several months ago. We spent quite a long time together and I was struck by her thoroughness and professionalism. I just found out that that interview has turned into this brilliant cover story in Centered on Taipei magazine (May 09). Thank you, Katherine, Roma Mehta and Emily McMurrinfor helping us to tell our story.


Meet The Ripplemaker

Text: Katherine Young, Images: Emily McMurrin

Yes, a ripple maker I will be,

as I cast these thoughts to you…

Pick your pebbles carefully,

Cause you’re a ripple maker too!

Denise Lanford

Meet the Daymaker

At a recent birthday dinner at Nonzero, I observed owner Ping Chu, stylishly outfitted in black and white, as he played consummate host to a group of forward thinking movers and shakers in Taipei. While skillfully engaging and tending to his guests, he made time to periodically slip back to us, nestled in a back corner, usually with someone on his arm that he wanted to make sure we “knew.” When, in the course of one of these forays, he got wind of our celebration, he grinned widely and disappeared, only to return shortly after with a decadent double chocolate cake.

Mind you – this was my first introduction to Mr. Ping Chu.

Days later in our correspondence to arrange a meeting, I beheld, under his name: “Businessmaker, Daymaker, Ripplemaker.”

You can’t help but smile when reading that, can you?

So, who is this man and where do such titles come from? After several hours with Ping and Centered editor, Roma Mehta, I feel as though I am just scratching the surface. He is indeed a maker of all sorts and through our conversations I gained a sense of this man-a man who prefers to rephrase the commonly asked, “How do I balance work and life?” to what is in his mind a better question: “How can I integrate work and life?” He spoke at a conference in November about ‘making a life rather than making a living. “ With this in mind, he aims to create sustainable and holistic businesses, where ultimately, the business doesn’t actually need him to proceed, allowing Ping to realize what he termed as his primary goal when he entered this realm – freedom. By all counts it seems to be working. He still manages without a mobile phone – though he admitted the recently unveiled iphone is awfully tempting.

Ping has arrived at his views through vast business experience and travel, paired with exacting analysis and appreciation of what works and what doesn’t in practice. A consummate storyteller, we reveled in fascinating snippets of his life, in particular, those that have shaped his values and views.

When Ping discovered the Beatles and the world they inhabited while in high school, his desire to travel was piqued. After completing his degree in Taiwan, he went stateside to do a BS in Pharmaceutical Science; at this point he thought he was all set – “I’m a pharmacist” rolled easily off the tongue. But then came a critical twist in his life – his father became ill. He put all on hold, returned to Taiwan and spent six months with his father in the hospital. In that suspended space between life and death, he found himself questioning five more years in school and a life that was, “all set.” When his father passed away, his obligations were few, and so he set out on a year of wandering. Through the United States and Europe his travels took him, and in that time, he clarified his decision not to return to his pharmacy program, or as he put it, “to step off the treadmill” and avoid the “salary trap.”

Meet the Businessmaker

Ping Chu Ripplemaker 2

Even at that time Ping was drawn to products of quality, particularly a certain black and white bottle that raised the standard on any hair care products he’d previously used. As I gazed at Ping in his elegant black jacket with its mandarin collar and crisp three button white shirt, I easily envisioned him and his excitement upon discovering the likes of Paul Mitchell, a new company offering a philosophy of hair care and real style. He paused here in the story, inspired by these memories it seemed, to offer a bit of advice to the young: Enrich your life experience for you never know what will happen. Replace the fear of uncertainty with curiosity. Ping was curious about that black and white bottle and what it represented, and so he became a Paul Mitchell enthusiast, and it seems Mr. Mitchell reciprocated!

His seemingly simple decision to use these products led to a rather extraordinary string of events. While trying out a string of jobs in the United States, from waiter to salesman, Mitchell asked Ping if he would bring his line to Taiwan. The early stages were markedly humble – with stock lining makeshift shelves in his living room and his mother labeling bottles, he set out to introduce a philosophy of hair care that was diametrically opposed to the then Taiwanese approach of having your hair washed exclusively at the beauty parlor. Ping educated and illustrated how one must give, in order to get – in this case, he showed salons that by ‘liberating’ their customers and teaching them how to take care of their own hair, they could actually increase their income by focusing on more technical, work intensive processes. Ping knew at this stage that he wanted to create a business based on trust, community, common sense and honesty. He offered all the salons the guarantee that he would buy back any product that they didn’t sell, and he brought in sales people who wanted to be part of a team. He paid them a salary, rather than making it contingent upon sales, and created the idea that success was not based on the “master sales person” but rather the integral functioning of all involved in the process. This idea that success is shared by all continues to define his businesses today.

Over time, he developed a friendship with Aveda founder, Horst Rechelbacher, who came to Taiwan annually when sourcing products. With similar philosophies and interests, theirs was a natural fit. The rest is history.

Long before Nonzero’s arrival, Ping had loved the idea of opening a restaurant that would translate the philosophy of Aveda into the culinary arena, but had no practical knowledge or idea how to approach it. He envisioned a community eatery that focused on taste through the use of organic foods, and that highlighted an aesthetic presentation.

Ping Chu 2

Nonzero, now two years old, has undergone several transformations since it opened, and if you haven’t visited lately, you’ll be tantalized when you do. Gazing at the restaurant and street front, my eyes dart back and forth – do I believe what I am seeing? Allowing my eyes to linger, I realize that the street is in fact quite lovely. Upon designing his office on this narrow alley – there is an Aveda Salon on the street as well – Ping resolved to, “stop complaining how ugly Taipei is and do something about it.” With that, he gave his designer free reign to emphasize the outside view, the goal being to offer “a gift to the neighbors.” The ripple of this action inspired the health food store/restaurant across the street to make their own effort to beautify the block by placing a table and benches outside their shop. Now, the rest of us get to revel in a quaint stretch of downtown Taipei, complete with an outdoor iron sculpture. When the corner building (now Nonzero’s location) opened up, the owners, residents on the street and witnesses of the street’s transformation, approached Ping, “I want you to have it. I’ll wait for you.”

Ping put the idea out into the universe as only a good ripplemaker can and in due time met the critical component, an experienced restauranteur, who could help him transmit the dream into reality. “I have a great space,” he told him – “help me.” Nonzero was born. He has dreamt into reality the most prepossessing watering hole. The style, be it shabby chic, rough luxury or recycled beauty, is tasteful and accommodating. Glass shelving shows off French porcelain and serves to divide the two rooms, while natural light streams in. Both intimate and larger community style tables grace the restaurant, the latter crafted from handsome pieces of wood and stay true to Ping’s vision of offering ‘liked minded’ a meeting point to engage and share ideas.

The day’s vegetables are on display in an open refrigerator at the back, and recently our waiter encouraged us to peruse the offerings before selecting, reminding me of meals in a rustic Italian trattoria. All produce is sourced locally, and much boasts special distinction– organically grown by Pierre Loisel – on the menu. Ping’s experience of the last two years has inspired some changes both in the physical layout of the space and the menu. We were there recently for the latest unveiling, which continues to include all dishes ala carte and as well as set menus for 700nt, 900nt and 1500nt. Our appetites were sated and our taste buds tickled with the 700nt menu: homemade bread for dipping in a beautiful French olive oil and aged Italian balsamic; hearty mushroom soup; traditional Panzanella (Italian bread salad); perfectly cooked risotto (free range chicken or local mushroom) followed by an Aveda like herbal tea infusion. As local Taiwanese mushrooms were the specialty of the day, we also opted to savor one grilled. It arrived on a rustic wooden cutting board accompanied by a pungent pepper spread. The elegant simplicity of the food; the thoughtful service, including a visit from the able chef; the warm atmosphere – they all intertwine so seamlessly that we shook our heads in disbelief when we finally wandered out late into the evening.

Meet the ripplemaker.

Ping expressed gratitude often for the luck that he has had in his life; certainly, luck has played a role, but infused, no doubt, with a forward thinking approach to business and living. Aveda has a dedicated and ‘critical number of customers that support it,” allowing him to engage and support many other ideas and beliefs close to his heart, Nonzero being one of them. The soiree when I first met Ping was, in fact, part of his broader vision to inspire intellectual discourse in Taipei. And indeed the group that night gathered together, around his community tables, sharing ideas and discussing the future. He takes this quest on in many ways-his blog, his restaurant, his involvement in BQ (the Big Question) and his support of TEDxTaipei. Through each he aims to inspire active communication and dialogue and to raise consciousness. Kindly, he has also provided a venue where such folk can convene.

The effects from Ping’s beliefs and actions seem to be reaching greater distances these days. His blog reads – Be inspired Get involved Take action – he certainly seems to embrace this credo on a daily basis.



但女人幸福感,一般來說就是很傳統的幸福,因為一聽到幸福這兩個字,傳統的價值就跑進來了—很乖、顧家老實的先生;小孩聰明 、讀書認真可以進哈佛;年紀大了子孫滿堂、身體健康、安安順順不愁錢花 ……基本上就是傳統的幸福概念,但這些都是非常被動的幸福觀,可是我們應該用現代的觀念來轉換一下傳統的幸福感,讓幸福感成為主動追求的,而不是追尋過去的定義。小孩不乖就不幸福了?老公花天酒地就不幸福了?應該要有新概念,主動追求你的幸福感,所以你可以掌握自己的人生。我自己不會說我很幸福,我會說我的生活很滿足,因為幸福這兩個字會有標籤被貼上傳統的價值,老公不乖、小孩闖禍、跟公婆有複雜的關係……這都是自己騙自己。所以我們要新定義幸福,也就是不要戴面具過日子,不要因為扮太多的角色,結果把自己完完整整撕裂了,傳統的女人要相夫教子,同時間工作要愉快,到其他場合要有其他的樣子…..總之要很稱職的扮演很多角色,結果沒有時間扮演自己。當然這個概念也不是新的,但也不是女性自覺或女性主義,重點是要自己帶自己走出傳統幸福的定義,要靠自己努力來獲得。











美國有個電視節目做過一個研究,在一個叫做 Notre Dame的修道院裡,研究一群修女。他們的生活作息模式通通一模一樣,因此在此研究基準相同之下,發現快樂的修女比較長壽,樂觀知足的人就是會活的比較久。因為你對生活的態度是一種讚美與感恩。快樂跟幸服福是有關係的,所以我覺得幸福是找來的,你可以選擇讓自己活得快樂。寬恕也是種幸福,有勇氣的人才會寬容。寬容也在文化裡頭,像美國就允許破產。



回應:轉載至-Yahoo!奇摩時尚網-名家專欄部落格—朱平「夢想遨翔的 Cafe Nonzero」

Post by pingchu20**於(2007/08/09 10:57:50)回應

Dear Amy: You are absolutely right on. I agree with you 100 percent. 🙂 Welcome to the Nonzero Cafe!

Post by amy18**於(2007/08/09 00:50:21)回應

沒錯 幸福真的是自己找的 很多人常常會自怨自哀 去羨慕別人 其實不論你是何人 扮演著什麼角色 過怎麼樣的生活 知足就是幸福 但現實總是很難 我看了文章後 覺得要努力做到這點 必竟人生是自己的 很多事都是自己去決定的 何謂幸福就是自己最清楚 加油了

Post by pingchu20**於(2007/07/29 16:19:22)回應

Dear Fawn: You are absolutely right. People also did not spend enough time with themselves. This is why the solitude is an important ritual people should embrace. Thank you for joining this dialogue.

Post by dearfawn**於(2007/07/22 06:40:56)回應

If you can deeply understand yourself then you’ll grab what’s welfare or happiness. The question is most of people hardly understand themselves.

Post by pingchu20**於(2007/07/15 06:25:10)回應

Dear Larua: You are a very lucky person. We all have choices. To confront the adversity with courage is a choice. The important thing is to feel that you are not powerless.You can create your destiny.

Post by laura_y_cha**於(2007/07/12 11:26:48)回應


Post by pingchu20**於(2007/06/28 10:36:49)回應

Well said, thank you, Paley.

Post by paley99**於(2007/06/27 00:51:46)回應


Post by pingchu20**於(2007/06/23 23:57:20)回應

Anny: please remember that we all are accountable for our own behavior and decision.When you are willing to take the responsibility, you dont’ need to forgive anything or anyone.You are free at last.

Post by anny6782**於(2007/06/19 14:08:55)回應

寬恕也是種幸福, 有勇氣的人才會寬容曾經我以為『他』會是我最終的伴侶……想不到走到了八年後…我們還是分開了….. 或許….這是老天爺要送給我關於『寬怨』的這門功課吧!所以我一定會努力的........

Post by janny5808**於(2007/06/14 10:26:43)回應


Post by chenhs20**於(2007/06/12 17:50:19)回應


Post by yoyo5411a**於(2007/06/12 15:43:31)回應


Post by virginia111**於(2007/04/19 15:15:12)回應

太棒了我非常同意 幸福的主權在我們 自己

Post by i26**於(2007/03/11 06:25:59)回應


Post by ontic.**於(2007/02/26 10:38:18)回應


Post bysuesue04**於(2007/02/20 10:59:31)回應

我喜歡文章裡二句話: 寬恕也是種幸福, 有勇氣的人才會寬容

Post by lws01**於(2007/02/17 09:21:21)回應

的確…..有太多人不懂的幸福是什麼 才會怨天怨地…..

Post by pingchu20**於(2007/01/26 03:25:07)回應

Madly in love definitely will bring you happiness. However, we also fall out of love. Therefore, living in the moment, staying positive, detachment and accepting the impermanence are facts of life. It is a good sign that people realize that money can only increase your happiness so much. Be a satisficer, not a maximizer, will definitely help you to gain more happiness

Post by cuttynaw**於(2007/01/10 16:41:36)回應

我真的覺得 此時此刻的我 真的很幸福謝謝大家! 祝福大家!!^_^

Post by li6012**於(2006/12/26 16:52:27)回應


Post by patricia888wa**於(2006/12/23 01:15:48)回應

Post by ztoz03**於(2006/12/19 20:42:03)回應

回應 liuh 這就是…傳統的幸福概念呀!!! 這當然也不是要大家什麼都不管…只是要懂! 這些並不是幸不幸福的元素! 要懂得突破既定的規矩! 這不容易. 卻很值得大家放手一搏唷!!!

Post by pingchu20**於(2006/12/17 01:50:04)回應

I am so happy to see you all sharing your feeling on this simple article. Happiness is a journey and a state of mind. The point I want to share is that happiness is a choice and requires effort. Yes, it is not easy and it can be hard work but it is not impossible to achieve happiness. Happiness requires cultivating positive thinking habits. eg. forgiveness, contentment, living in the moment.

Post by erica_b**於(2006/12/15 17:43:06)回應


Post by ee94510**於(2006/12/14 13:15:11)回應”幸福是找來的,你可以選擇讓自己活得很快樂。寬恕也是種幸福,有勇氣的人才會寬容。”很棒的一句話^^ 原諒跟寬恕真的需要勇氣的~

Post by snoopybaby1ki**於(2006/12/10 16:13:11)回應


Post by liuh**於(2006/12/09 22:52:03)回應


Post by tk011**於(2006/12/09 15:57:29)回應


Post by godream**於(2006/12/09 14:05:45)回應


Post by hitomi40**於(2006/12/07 02:35:58)回應


Post by chenjean**於(2006/12/06 20:18:31)回應

“白開水”喝起來沒味道 但是是必需品 我想開心 快樂 就在當下的每一分.每一秒!!

Post by lindawu**於(2006/12/06 16:56:05)回應


Post by crvone69**於(2006/12/06 11:32:55)回應


Post by shumin67**於(2006/12/06 00:55:16)回應


Post by xuran**於(2006/12/05 21:01:11)回應

幸福是創造愛 ,珍惜愛,聆聽自已內心的聲音,在堅強中讓自己學會寬容,在寬容中 讓自己鍛鍊的更為堅強

Post by tw_riv**於(2006/12/05 18:14:46)回應

看完了覺得很感動因為是從一個男性的觀點卻道出了女性最深的渴望 just be myself 希望台灣男人都可以了解並支持

Post by hua67520**於(2006/12/05 16:37:47)回應

做自己很容易嗎? 不為薪水工作做得到嗎? 極力嘗試平衡現實和想像中的理想境界, 使終覺得好難….

Post bymai09**於(2006/12/05 13:55:55)回應

做自己勇敢去做…不後悔… 相信幸福就在身邊…珍惜每分每秒!!

Post bymickeyandmelo**於(2006/12/05 04:52:28)回應

“快樂也是一天,不快樂也是一天” 一句簡單的話卻好深奧,因為能真正能完成這句話的人,我想應該少之少,我正在努力學習中,學習如何快樂的看每件事,如何樂觀的過人生中的每一天,我想快樂才是真正的~幸福~

Post bycrane1**於(2006/12/04 14:01:48)回應

活在當下 , 知足常樂.

Post byjessie-huan**於(2006/12/03 09:34:23)回應


Post byellen03**於(2006/12/03 01:31:10)回應

I will find my own happiness! 我會找到幸福的!

Post byyiyi6305**於(2006/12/02 21:20:57)回應


Post bye2226137**於(2006/12/01 08:58:03)回應


Post bylilypp**於(2006/11/29 22:23:59)回應

心情的指標~我想就像這篇所寫的 是自己決定的 慶幸我是個樂觀的人~ 幸福!從這篇我了解了~會嘗試自己好好把

Post byboss67ki**於(2006/11/29 13:13:33)回應


Post bylian_li**於(2006/11/29 10:48:59)回應

我很贊同你的見解但是我不是很同意你的中外比較法我個人真的沒有覺得美國的月亮比較圓 (現實是啦)但是 真的是個人修為不關你的國籍跟文化差異的!

Post byyoyolin19**於(2006/11/29 04:58:50)回應

是啊!寬容的確須要勇氣… 當初背叛的他告訴我他們現在很幸福,雖然內心仍有不捨但我終究還是獻上我的祝福...祝福他們白頭偕老 永遠幸福.相信選擇放下的我 同時真正屬於我的幸福應該就在不遠處?

Post by pingchu20**於(2006/11/29 00:02:00)回應

We all need to be the student of ouselves. If you don’t spend time to ge to know yourself, you will constantly be challenged by the conventional wisdom. We need to make new friends who support us. Chinese men has failed, period. I also believe that Chinese women will take control of the future in Chinese society. Women has all the qualities for the future leader. The time is on their side.

Post by karencc01**於(2006/11/28 17:10:06)回應


Post by luke7608**於(2006/11/28 02:12:16)回應

我覺得真實表達自己的感受用說的很容易~ 但卻要有很大的勇氣去實行~ 因為我們畢竟是群體的生活~要不受輿論的束縛或壓力實在很難~ 我就覺得我身邊很多人為了安定而選擇跟現實妥協~ 我似乎也開始做出這樣的選擇~ 但這也沒有誰對或誰錯~畢竟理想和現實大家只能靠自己去努力達到一個平衡~ 不過還是有夢最美拉~ㄏㄏ朋友跟我分享的一句話:被嘲笑的夢想~更有被實現的價值~ 好像跟幸福無關~哈哈

Post by teresa7943**於(2006/11/27 18:21:46)回應

真實表達自己的感受最重要不因外在事物而改變自 己的感受樂觀積極地面對人生將會活得更快樂^^

Post by ellenshiah_20**於(2006/11/26 01:31:48)回應

在英文, 幸福 為 ” happiness” 亦及快樂, 是同意字. 會累, 會在乎別人的眼光, 是造成自己不快樂的原因, 其實 ” 心” 不要累, 自在活著才是真的. 但同時要溫柔的對待別人

Post by yuanhsiumi**於(2006/11/25 18:53:11)回應


非零餐廳 Nonzero Restaurant announcement

cimg6937.jpgDear Friends:I have always wanted to open a restaurant ever since I started the Aveda business. Nonzero is an organic and whole food gourmet restaurant with a retail store that focuses on fine food items and vintage collection. It finally opens for business after five month’s preparation. Nonzero is a place you can call home. The idea is to bring back the taste in healthy eating through simple and artisanal cooking. We want to provide a new option in Taipei’s restaurant scene. Nonzero fulfils our yearning for simple, healthy and delicious cooking. We won’t hold a grand opening. Instead we hope you will just drop by and experience it for yourself. When you’re here, do remember to check out the vintage and gift items in our store. Plenty of one of a kind items for your treasure hunting. We are what we do.

We are what we eat.

We are what we buy.

Ping Chu

p.s. please help us spread the words by forwarding this email to your friends.


N0.5, Alley 4, Lane27, Sec. 4, Ren-Ai Road, Taipei, Taiwan. Tel: 02-2772-1630

Lunch: NT$ 500 + set or a la carte

Dinner: NT$ 1500 + set or a la carte

親愛的好朋友:前一陣子在電話中,我的一位好友說我是瘋子。開一個只有28張椅子的餐廳及賣食品、二手貨的小雜貨禮品店。他難以相信我會從事這種“小生意”。我在電話中,謝謝他的關心,只是請他過來非零Nonzero看一下,再做最後的斷語。 約了時間,他跟他朋友一起過來非零Nonzero,雖然他馬上驚喜愛上非零Nonzero 的健康美味食物,也願意推薦他所有的好朋友,他仍然告訴我,即使每天28張椅子坐滿人,仍只是一個小生意,太累不值得。但是他也知道我有一個夢想: 肯愛的非零Nonzero是一個生活方式,生活風格。更是一個屬於你我的地方。 台灣需要有更多人提供新的選擇,如果您喜歡非零Nonzero的生活風格並願意支持我們所提倡的生活方式,您就會成為非零Nonzero的常客(regulars)。非零Nonzero沒有特別好,特別不同,只是一個新的選擇。喜歡的人就會喜歡,不喜歡的人也不能強求。 非零Nonzero就應該是代表我們的生活。我們僅是告訴大家生活有另一種選擇,希望大家能一同分享這種生活。 生命就是一種探索。冒險的學習。 在非零Nonzero的餐廳中,您有機會吃沒有吃過不同文化的傳統食物,而我們所設計的簡單、不過份用力裝飾的菜單更是我們的特色。 在這裡,您可以購買到我們在世界各地找到的獨特食品,飲料及二手貨。


We are what we do.

We are what we eat.

We are what we buy.