Celebrity chefs from Paris to Los Angeles swear by Kampot pepper, a southwestern Cambodian spice with a tragic past that is now reclaiming its global pre-eminence. It is also proving to be "black gold" for some of its once-impoverished farmers, thanks in part to Kampot pepper last year being awarded a Protected Geographical Indication by the European Union. This identifies unique products — like Stilton cheese, Champagne or Darjeeling tea — as originating in a very specific region.
On June 17th we teamed up with Nyum Bai, a Cambodian food pop-up, to host Noodle.Maple.Social, a pop-up, in Oakland, CA. The idea to collaborate was based on our shared interest for Cambodian food, culture and kampot peppercorns. We wanted our pop-up to have purpose and by doing that our goal was to provide a unique experience of Khmer culture through food, music and art.
Though there are a few Cambodian restaurants in the Bay, we feel like there is still a lack of of presence of traditional Cambodian cuisines. There is also a lack of education and marketing of Cambodian cuisines in the same fashion that have helped the Burmese, Thai and Vietnamese food scene thrive in the past few years. There was only one type of venue that would be fitting for the type of experience that would scream Cambodian, a donut shop! Majority of Cambodian-Americans have a family member that owns a donut shop as it is engrained in the Cambodian-American experience. We also hoped that the marketing of a pop-up in a donut shop would also help draw the attention of Cambodian-Americans of all ages to come out and network within the Bay Area community.
When the owners of Golden Gate Donut agreed to allow us to use their space, we felt like we really had to turn that place out and make sure the second you walked in, you were experiencing a normal day at a Cambodian establishment; a bit of chaos, rock & roll and good times. Our team and Nyum Bai were blown away by the interest of the attendees that day. We were truly hoping that we’d be lucky enough to get a steady stream of hungry customers and to our surprise we were greeted with a line that wrapped around the building throughout the event until we unexpectedly sold-out.
Our team couldn’t be anymore grateful for everyone that showed up and waited patiently. We hope that you all enjoyed Nyum Bai’s dishes and know that this is the beginning of a collaborative series we call Noodle.Maple.Social. It will continue to evolve so we can provide various unique Cambodian experiences. Our next one is going to be really sweet and we’ll make sure to improve so everyone leaves satisfied and full.
Back in the fall of 2014, we quietly launched Kambujatrading.com as a way to sell Kampot peppercorns. The launch was prior to our eventual trip to Cambodia at the end of the year. As we returned, our peppercorn trading business evolved into something more special. Prior to our relaunch a few weeks ago, we've had friends and family ask us what Kambuja Trading Co. really was about. I've decided to answer some of the most frequent questions in a two part series to keep short (kind of) and sweet.
This week, we are launching our first series of "FYI" journal posts regarding our coveted product, Kampot peppercorns. This product comes in three variations: black, red, and white and can be purchased directly here: link and go directly to the post to learn more.
Before visiting China and Cambodia, my idea of a sweatshops were completely different. Where visions of one extreme, like underaged kids behind factory machines, were replaced with a much more subtly disguised unjust system. Watch the short documentary series to catch a glimpse of what life is like as a textile worker, and I challenge you to ask yourself how our habits as consumers feed into this problem.
It's a few minutes past 7 a.m., the roosters have been crowing way before the sunrise and the smell of the neighbors burning styrofoam is so pungent that it tickles my nose with every breath. As I open my bamboo-latched hut to see an abundance of tropical fruit trees and lush hills that are rare in this rugged land, the latter seem menial. For the past few days I've apprenticed at a pepper farm and eco-tourism destination in a community outside of Kep, a sleepily beach town near the Vietnamese border.
The iconic figure in our logo is of King Jayavarman VII, considered by many as Cambodia's greatest ruler - ruling the ancient Khmer Kingdom between 1181 and 1218 BC.
The name Kambuja Trading is derived from Kambuja-Desa, an ancient term to describe the Khmer Empire.
Kambuja Trading is our way of paying respect to Cambodia's past and present.
Surviving and moving forward meant having to forget the past. Some of those pasts were taken away from my parent’s generation during the Khmer Rouge rule. Art, along with the artists, educators, music and its musicians, government officials (my uncle who was a judge), were all taken away to be silenced and forgotten forever.