In a remote refugee camp in Northern Thailand, in the late 1970s, lived a Hmong food merchant with her farmer husband and eight children. To provide for her family, every morning, the food merchant pushed a two-level street cart no bigger than a standard coffee table to the edge of the camp's only entrance (also its only exit) and served food to her customers. Fastened tightly to one level of the cart was a big pot of hot chicken broth made from free-range chickens that she raised herself - that she made, letting it slowly simmered the evening before and seasoned only with salt, lemongrass and natural spices that she picked and dried from her wild garden. On the other level of her cart were two big containers of softened rice noodles and an array of freshly cut vegetables and herbs. From the cart, she served her customers savory, hearty chicken pho - a traditional rice noodle soup of her hilltribe people - all for a fraction of $1.00 USD. With that soup, she sent them off well-nourished for their day's journey. This food merchant is our founder's mother, who is spending her 80s quietly in St. Paul, Minnesota today, still tending to a wild garden of mixed vegetables and herbs found from Asia to North America.
Fifty years later, that simple chicken pho has been largely forgotten in many households, replaced by large-scale, global processing for profits - often altering original recipes to favor more artificial flavors and instant cooking processes. From simple, clean, natural origins, it has been put on steroids - made bigger and faster. This is the unfortunate journey of many traditional Asian recipes and foods that our mothers and their mothers created. Our mission is to preserve food making that maintains taste, health, culture and community.
Kayla Yang-Best, the daughter of the food merchant, founded Spice Kitchen on the love of quality Asian foods and the desire to share across cultures, while respecting and preserving the healthy traditions the ancestors used to create them.
Delicious food comes from delicious ingredients, and delicious ingredients are fresh, natural and grown with care. You can grow them or visit a local market. Communities in many US cities, including our hometown of Minneapolis-St.Paul, are made up of many cultures and people from around the world. They have brought many different agricultural practices and goods to our local farms - naturally enhancing our food diversity and tastes. Our dinner tables can be as abundant and diversely tasteful as the world's restaurants and markets.
We believe that what you can't find or grow locally - adapt with purpose and mindfulness. Eating local is about balancing your consumption behaviors and environmental sustainability - and we believe that starting local is the best practice.