One of the Country’s Favorite Condiments Has Surprising California Roots
Lost in the sauce.
David Tran’s story of an immigrant entrepreneur in Los Angeles is almost as spicy as his famous red sauce.
Burritos, eggs, pho, Bloody Marys—you name it. Sriracha is as ubiquitous a hot sauce as you’ll find in the US, and there’s no shortage of foods that can be complemented by the Thai chili condiment. Its creator, David Tran, arrived in California on a ship from Vietnam in 2008. In 2018, just 10 years later, his Hoy Fung Foods pulled in $80 million in revenue.
But Tran has caught some flack from food critics who label his concoction just a watered down, “Americanized” version of the traditional Thai recipe. In the great tradition of immigrant entrepreneurs making it in America’s competitive culinary ecosystem, Tran’s story is nothing new. For many, the “Americanizing” of any dish carries with it negative connotations, but Tran isn’t one to brush the commentary aside. “It’s not a Thai sriracha. It’s my sriracha,” he said in a 2009 New York Times interview.
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They don’t have much, but they have each other.
It’s on view at Palm Springs Art Museum November 23 through March 1.