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Meet Kim, Frank, Frick Chanthorn, Cliff , Elson Douangdara, and Sandy Sichanh of SAAP Lao Kitchen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kim, Frank, Frick Chanthorn, Cliff, Elson Douangdara, and Sandy Sichanh

Kim, Frank, Frick, Cliff, Elson, and Sandy, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Our story began over a bowl of Khao Piak Sen (Lao Chicken Noodle Soup). It was Christmas 2015, and our family’s tradition was to always end the night with everyone enjoying a delicious bowl of hot soup, paired with a few bottles of Hennessy. Then the question came up, “Dude. Lao food is so freaking good, but why isn’t there more of it out there?” So, our New Year’s resolution was to host one food pop-up to share the food we grew up eating with anyone willing to try. That’s when SAAP Lao Kitchen was born.

We found that the pop-ups were the perfect medium to showcase our story, flavors and creative style. One of the staples that we would always sell was our beef jerky. People immediately connected with the jerky as it was a bit more familiar to them, helping to bridge the gap between what people are used to and Lao cuisine. In May of 2017, we decided to sell our jerky to the public at the Dallas Farmer’s Market.

To our surprise, the response was overwhelmingly positive! With the continued support of our fans, we’ve since expanded to selling at other local markets, hosting special events, and launching our online store. We’re just getting started so folks can stay tuned by following us on social media. @saaplaokitchen

Has it been a smooth road?
It’s been as smooth as gravel. Although we all come from a professional food or business background, this was the first time anyone on the SAAP Team has built a company from the ground up. Some of the struggles that we faced early on were: logistics of fresh beef jerky production, the huge learning curve of doing food pop-ups at different venues, and how to better educate the public on an under-represented cuisine. We’ve learned a lot along the way in a very short amount of time, but there’s always more to learn and we keep striving to be better each day.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the SAAP Lao Kitchen story. Tell us more about the business.
We are a family owned and operated beef jerky start-up. Our mission is to share the most ridiculously addictive Laotian-style beef jerky that we grew up eating and loving!

What makes SAAP Lao Kitchen’s jerky deliciously different from the rest? We started out with a very traditional Laotian recipe called Seen Savanh, which translates to “Heavenly Beef”. Our premium jerky is hand-crafted fresh every week. This ensures that we can focus on the quality and that each piece has our signature flavor profile: sweet, savory, and amazingly tender!

Elson (a Co-Founder), further perfected the recipe, making it unique among both American and Laotian jerkies alike. True to Lao fashion, we use very simple ingredients but really try to maximize the flavor. We never add any nitrates or other preservatives.

As a small company, we’re most proud of the diverse talent that we have on the team. From making our product, engaging with the customers, to showing up at the Farmer’s Markets, everyone lends their strengths into each of the roles.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
We do see the meat snack market continuing to grow over the next few years. We also see a trend of people becoming more willing to try authentic ethnic cuisine, specifically ones that are not yet in the mainstream spotlight.

However, as consumers become more educated on various cuisines and it becomes more accepted, the overall industry will see an increase in small businesses competing for market share.

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