At The Table With: Amy Chow, Chief Financial Officer At Sur La Table

May 31, 2024

Name: Amy Chow

Preferred Name: Amy

Pronouns: she/her

Favorite SLT Tool or Small Appliance: Chef’n StemGem Strawberry Huller and the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro


Tell us a bit about yourself – where did you grow up? Where do you reside currently? Who do you call “family?”

I was born and raised here in Seattle by my immigrant parents and grandmother.

From grocery shopping in the International District every weekend to trying new foods on the various Pacific Northwest road trips my family embarked on throughout my childhood, cooking and food exploration were a common occurrence. My brother and I were lucky to be exposed to many different cultures and cuisines when we were growing up and it has shaped our love of food and travel as adults.

I currently reside in Seattle with my husband of 12 years, 2 daughters 

(aged 9 and 5) and our sweet 12 year old Shepherd/Collie mix, Knox (named after the legendary Seahawks head coach, Chuck Knox).

How did you come to work at Sur La Table? Tell us a bit about your journey to becoming SLT’s Chief Financial Officer.

My first foray into retail was at a company called Gump’s in San Francisco.

Gump’s is a luxury retailer of fine jewelry, home décor and gifts with strong roots in merchandising unique products from around the world and known for providing unparalleled customer service. I had previously worked in consulting and technology companies, but I wanted to pivot to a more “fun” industry where I could apply my corporate finance experience. At Gump’s, I immersed myself into all things retail and found the combination of finance and retail exhilarating.

A few years later, I moved back to Seattle and after a couple of stints at technology companies, I was craving retail again. That’s when I saw a Sr. Financial Analyst job posting at Sur La Table—a dream company for me. At the time, I had already worked my way up to a Controller role, but I didn’t want that to keep me from getting my foot in the door at my dream company. So I applied and explained that I was interested in learning and growing with the company even if it meant I was taking a role that took me a couple steps back in terms of title and pay. Thankfully, I was hired and from that day forward I committed to learning whatever I could from all the people I worked with at SLT.

Since then I have tried to approach my career journey as a continuous learning experience coupled with opportunities along the way.  Luckily, one of the opportunities that opened up about a year after Sur La Table’s transition from bankruptcy was the CFO role.

What obstacles (if any) or prejudices have you faced in your career?

In my career, there have been instances where people have suggested that I lower my aspirations; not because they doubted my abilities, but because they thought they were protecting me from disappointment. But I have learned that the bigger disappointment comes from not even trying.

Follow Up: Does Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month hold a special significance for you? If so, what do you think is the most important thing to remember or reflect on during the month?

AAPI Heritage Month to me means recognizing the sacrifices that many immigrants, like my parents, have made to ensure the success of the next generation.

How has your upbringing (i.e. family, culture, background) influenced how you approach your work and career?

My parents are immigrants who came over with very few resources in the early 1970s. They set the example for me and my brother by just working hard every day to provide for us, which I think describes so many AAPI families who have left their native countries for a better life in the States.

What is the most important lesson (food, cooking, career or otherwise) that you’ve learned during your tenure at Sur La Table?

Not everything can be cleaned in the dishwasher!

As you know, at Sur La Table we’re all about food—cooking it, eating it and sharing it with others. What role does food play in your life?

You’ve heard it before, but food is my family’s love language. There will never be a situation where my family gets together without food as a focal point. Trips are planned with food as the #1 reason for visiting. And I love to cook (prep, cook, eat, clean…I love it all) and can’t wait to try new recipes on my family when I have time.

Follow Up: What is the best thing you’ve ever eaten?

It’s hard to narrow down, but recently our family went to Japan—Wagyu beef skewers come to mind…

Finally, if you could host a dinner party with any 5 people—living or dead—who would they be and why?

Even though technically I would need a translator as my 6th person, it would be: my grandparents for their wisdom (all 4 because 1 of them I had never met before and the other 3 I did not get to spend enough time with). Plus, Anthony Bourdain because I always thought he had an honest take on the places that he traveled and he did it with what seemed like sincere humility and respect.

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