My beautiful mother gave birth to me at a refugee camp in Thailand. I was the middle child of three and the only daughter. When I was three years-old, my parents decided to relocate our family to the United States to provide a better life for us all. Traveling all the way from Laos, we landed in gorgeous Aurora, Colorado, and immediately put down roots.
Although I’ve been cooking since an early age, it wasn’t always something I was passionate about. Throughout my childhood, my mother pressured me to learn. “In order to be a good housewife you have to know how to cook, so your mother-in-law doesn’t scold you!” she would say. My response was always the same: “I don’t need to know how to cook because I’m not getting married. You’ll live with me forever, and I have you to cook for me.” She detested this answer and practically forced me to spend time learning my way around the kitchen.
At eight years-old, I reluctantly learned how to properly wash dishes. Then, she taught me how to wash fruits and vegetables and steam rice the traditional Laotian way, in a handwoven bamboo basket. The torture, or “lessons” as she called them, continued. Any time I failed to produce something correctly, my mother made me do it over and over again until I could do it with my eyes closed. Even though I was less than thrilled, there was no denying that I was developing my culinary skills.
By ten, I could cook eggs and crush chilies and fresh garlic with a mortar. Then, mom began teaching me how to use the knives and increasingly complex recipes for traditional Lao food. Back then, and throughout my teens, every moment I spent in the kitchen felt like a punishment. At times, when my mother was unable to cook for the family, it became my responsibility to do so. I was always cooking and cleaning, instead of playing with my friends.
Everything changed in 2012 when my mother tragically passed away. A year later, I found myself enrolled in a cake decorating class. I began to embrace a budding passion for cooking and baking, as it made me feel closer to the most important woman in my life, even though she was gone. I practiced day and night, adding my personal touch and perfecting classic Lao dishes, before moving on to Thai, Vietnamese, other Asian cuisines, and French pastries.
Eating these things alone wasn’t very fulfilling. Every day, I prayed mom would walk through the door and ask me what was for dinner, but alas, my prayers were never answered. Soon, I began to share my culinary creations with colleagues, friends and family. And they were captivated! Although they begged me for my recipes, I refused to share them, claiming that I had plans to build an entire food empire.
April 18, 2021 was the day I took the first step in doing exactly that. It was the day that I decided to launch my own business, Sweet Rice Flour, to share with others the power of my signature choux puffs with a delectable, authentic fruit cream base using both classic American fruits and those from my birth country, Thailand. This venture is both an homage to my loving mother and the incredible skills she bestowed upon me, as well as my way of uplifting my beloved community.