ON FOOD AND CHILDHOOD
My parents were refugees of the Khmer Rouge. When they immigrated to the U.S. they were met with an abundance of food – especially processed foods – that they were not familiar with. As my parents assimilated, this included adopting not-so healthy-eating habits because fast, convenient food was a priority. When I was about twelve, I began to read articles about health and nutrition. To me, it’s as simple as trying out different foods and seeing how it makes you feel. Rather than theorize, just put it to practice and see how it changes you physically and mentally.
HOW DID YOU LEARN TO MAKE THE CHICKPEAS?
It was after a workout with my regular gym buddy that I was first introduced to roasted chickpeas. I was starving after one of our workouts and he pulled out a bag. They had a dense texture and soft crunch. I had never had anything like it and was impressed by the nutritional value, iimmediately zeroing in on the amount of fiber and protein in each serving, 5g each. That was my ah-ha moment. I began experimenting in my kitchen, considering the roasting process of the chickpeas and how I could play with heat to arrive at the airy and crispy roasted chickpeas that I have today.
HOW ARE THEY MADE?
My ingredients are all organic and I currently roast the chickpeas at WhedCo, an incubator kitchen in the Bronx, New York. I usually roast 100lbs one a week. It is an all day event, 8–10 hours depending on what flavor I’m roasting. Then packaging is another full day. It is a physically demanding job.
Right now I’m a one woman show: I'm in charge of everything from the production process and setting up sales meetings to running demos and other miscellaneous things. It’s hard to find free time to do anything else. I’m in this transition period where I am working alone, but need to start hiring people so I can scale.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE BUSINESS?
I love that everyday is different. I’m never bored. I love to see the positive reaction people have when they try my products and walk away knowing that they are eating something good and good for them!