Location: Portland, OR
Service: Lemon Grass Seasoning Business & Website
*Operations are adjusted due to COVID-19
We connected with Chann through his Features blog post and we were so excited to hear about the business that he created with his sister to celebrate Khmer cuisine! His passion for Khmer culture shows through his responses and mission. Thank you for representing our Khmer and Khmerican community! Read more to find out who Chann is and what his family business is all about.
What is your name and role at Sou Family Recipes, LLC?
My name is Chann. I am the co-owner of Sou Family Recipes and I work with Mary Sou who is my sister.
What made you become interested in having a Khmer lemongrass seasoning business?
Representation. We both love cooking and we decided that this would be a good opportunity to showcase our culture and cuisine.
When we first started in August 2017, we didn't see any kroeung (Cambodian lemongrass paste) being sold [by small businesses]. We appreciate that more people from different states are showcasing their food now. Back then, we thought, "What about Cambodian food?" That's the reason why we decided to start our business in order to raise awareness of our culture and our immigration story in America.
What is your favorite part of owning your business so far? What are the challenges?
My favorite part is being creative. Being able to come up with different strategies to promote my product.
Before COVID, we hosted Dinner Parties at people's homes where I serve at least 8 people (max of 15 people; $30 / person) and give them a set menu. I use kroeung in the main dishes and tell them to go on my website to make the recipes using our lemongrass seasoning! Not only do I cook the food, I also do a show...
I do a history lesson of my family's immigration story and the genocide; then I'll do a spoken word poetry about my family and who we are, and even teach them how to Robam (Dance) Khmer. Within the three hours, you get the food, history, music, culture at the same time. It's like a snippet of what it's like to be Khmer American in the U.S.
I like to seek out random people, talk about my business, and see if they would consider the idea! Through these opportunities, people have bought my seasoning, learned and used the word "Khmer," understand what Cambodian food is like, and have a cultural experience. If COVID wasn't an issue, I could do this full time.
I really want to see other cultures doing something like this - Nigerians, Ghanians, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans - where they can offer their products and services to share their own twist of their culture that you wouldn't otherwise get at a restaurant. They'd offer that personal touch and make some money on the side.
I also have other ventures, such as creating a video production company to make videos and short films. I am trying to balance all of my interests while working full-time. The goal someday is to be able to work on my own and generate consistent revenue.
Tell us about your products or services!
Basically, the products are our lemon grass seasoning that we make and package for you. With our current service right now. my sister and I package everything. We give people the opportunity to cook authentic Khmer food by creating recipes on our website.
What else would you like for people to know about you and/or your business?
We are really proud to be Khmer. We hope that this will open up doors for other people of color to showcase their talent through food. This food company business is a part of my work in racial and social justice. I want there to be more communities of color creating products that represent their cultures. This will motivate others to be curious and willing to learn about people different from them, and hopefully contribute to breaking down barriers and stereotypes.
For us, we chose kroeung because it's the foundation to Khmer cooking. If you have kroeung, you can make a majority of Khmer food, such as Nom Banh Chok, Amok, Salaw Machew, and Curry.
Thank you, Chann, for sharing your passion of spreading Khmer culture! I especially enjoyed learning about your dinner parties and hope that you will be able to resume these services as soon as it is safe to do so. I also love that you and your sister work together to make this business happen. We look forward to meeting you someday, trying out your lemongrass seasoning, and supporting you 100% on your future ventures!