MS: What made you want to be what you are now?
LXB: I’ve just always been incredibly fascinated with the process of seeing things come together from start to finish. Creating in the kitchen provides that sense of reward for me. It feels like a bonus when you can take what was once an idea in your head & transform it into a dish that many others will be able to enjoy too.
MS: What was your pivotal moment in life that made you take this direction?
LXB: I truly believe food connects us and grounds us. We all need physical nourishment to thrive regardless of our race, gender & social, or economic background. The invitation to come & experience a meal with someone is an act of sharing & giving. It can really leave a lasting impression on people & it opens up space for them to feel heard, seen & loved. The deeper meaning behind why I create is a story I don’t often share with many but I’m very glad to share with you! Shortly after I was born, my father was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia. This diagnosis resulted from post-traumatic stress following his journey to find refuge in America during the time of the Secret War. As a young girl, I’d often seek ways to build a stronger relationship with him. Ultimately, I really just wanted him to know that he wasn’t alone in his struggles, that I wasn’t a threat & that I cared. I learned quickly that food was something we could bond over. I would prepare him a meal & call him over & we would sit (sometimes in silence) & share that meal together. It felt like in those still small moments, regardless of our current hardships or internal struggles, that we could still find peace & connection in that small window of time of “breaking bread” together. After his unexpected passing in 2016, I knew that I wanted to keep his traditions and food alive through my own life’s journey. In a way, teaching people about food is a homage to him.
MS: What is something you wish you knew in the beginning?
LB: I wish I didn’t spend so much time waiting for the perfect timing to start. We’re moving into a time where the audience is shifting towards wanting content that’s more relatable & tangible. People are longing for connection whether it’s in food or the arts or business content. I find that those videos & images get more appreciation than the ones where I’m trying way too hard to make everything fit into this unrealistically perfect mold.
I truly believe food connects us and grounds us. We all need physical nourishment to thrive regardless of our race, gender & social, or economic background. The invitation to come & experience a meal with someone is an act of sharing & giving. It can really leave a lasting impression on people & it opens up space for them to feel heard, seen & loved.
I’m proud to be a part of the representation. Lao food feels like the underdog in the world of social media and google searches. But I am hopeful with persistence we can get it to the mainstream!
MS: How did you get started/where did you begin?
LXB: I’d been contemplating on starting a cooking blog/vlog for years but hadn’t had the courage to speak into a camera, let alone show my face on camera. The thought of it just terrified me but I knew that to begin, I needed to just simply start even if it felt a little uncomfortable at first. During the 2020 pandemic, I discovered that I could make short video content through TikTok. It felt like the perfect way for me to create without any experience at all & I could do it without the fancy equipment, by just using my phone and voice!
“Cooking is therapeutic. There’s something about laying out the ingredients and seeing all the moving parts come together that makes the process really enjoyable.”
MS: What are your short-term and/or long-term goals at the moment?
LXB: My goal is to be able to merge my passion for food & my passion for connecting with people together! I’d love to do more interviews with local food owners & hear their stories surrounding their business & lifestyle. Perhaps in a podcast form or just a filming setting where we’re talking about the stories behind the food.
MS: Do you have advice for people interested in the same field?
LXB: Start sharing your knowledge in whatever field you feel the most confident and passionate about. Start with where you are & eventually the growth and confidence will follow.
MS: Who/what are your biggest inspirations and why?
LXB: I’m inspired by others who are also creating during this time. The power of using media to effect change is massive! I’ve made so many connections with people just like myself who are like-minded and striving for the same things! It’s refreshing every time I see their work because I know the time and effort that’s been poured into their content and it helps me to keep pushing forward.
MS: What is your favorite food/drink-related memory?
LXB: Sour Bamboo Soup with Chicken & bean thread noodles. It was a favorite dish of mine that only my Dad could make just right. He made it with extra Thai chili peppers and sour bamboo! The aromas of the Thai chili peppers & shallots cooking in the saute pan make my mouth water just thinking about it!
MS: What is your favorite quote(s) and why?
LXB: “We can all make powerful choices. We can all take back control by not blaming chance, fate, or anyone else for our outcomes. It’s within our ability to cause everything to change. Rather than letting past hurtful experiences sap our energy and sabotage our success, we can use them to fuel positive, constructive change.” -Darren Hardy (Author: The Compound Effect) I wish someone would have told my younger self this very thing! Hurtful experiences don’t define you. In fact, it builds character in you. Nothing is ever wasted but rather used to make you more equipped for life’s challenges.
MS: What is your favorite meal and/or drink to share?
LXB: Sticky Rice! It’s fun to eat. Each time I introduce it to my non-Lao friends, they look like they’ve discovered gold. They’re like a kid in a candy store!
MS: What is your ideal day in the work-life?
LXB: If I’m not in an environment where I can create and wholeheartedly express myself, it would feel debilitating. So a balance of creating, productivity & interaction with a team that won't be afraid to challenge me would be ideal!
MS: What is your ideal non-work day?
LXB: I like days where I don’t have a lot going on & I can just park myself somewhere in a quiet spot to regather my thoughts. That probably sounds super boring to most but it’s a dream for me. I’m also a mother of 4 and it can be a balancing act trying to juggle schedules and lives in the midst of trying to create, so any moment I have that invites me into peace & solitude is a win for me.
MS: What are some things that keep you going?
LXB: Mel Robbins often talks about parenting yourself & the concept of holding yourself accountable to what you want to eventually become. She often says, “you are one decision away from a completely different life.” Taking little steps to improve from the day before is what keeps me going.
“Passion can only get you so far. Mental coaching & self-talk is what’s going to keep you going when you start a project.”
MS: How do you approach a work-life balance?
LXB: Having set times to create & set times to rest is crucial to maintaining that balance.
MS: What is something you wish people learned or knew more about in your industry?
LXB: Food content isn’t as easy as it looks. It takes time to come up with recipes & test them. Then you have to teach your audience how to make it & make sure it looks good when photographed or filmed. There are many steps to the final product but it’s a cycle of chaos, joy & passion so we do it over and over again because we love it.
MS: What does supporting local mean to you?
LXB: I’m a huge advocate for supporting locals, in fact when I visit different cities, I intentionally seek out locally-owned businesses & small shops. I have many family members who are local business owners that have built their small business into a success where I grew up & it’s neat to see the loyalty and support of consistent customers and clients that help keep their businesses going.
MS: Do you have advice or encouragement for ways to support locals?
LXB: It becomes more than just a business but an ongoing relationship of giving and take when you support locally. Get to know your local business owners and partner alongside them. I believe that is how community truly begins!
MS: If you could solve one problem in the world, what would it be?
LXB: I would like to see underprivileged communities in America have more access to health food markets, farmer’s markets, and community gardens. There is a massive health food drought in the underprivileged communities of America because we’ve replaced grocery stores with fast-food restaurants & corner stores with all manufactured & affordable food items. Healthy, whole foods should not be a privilege but a necessity. Everyone should have a right to know where their food comes from and how to prepare meals using real ingredients to feed their families. The nearest health food market or grocery store should not have to be within trekking distance for these communities.
MS: How do you align your business decisions with your values each day?
LXB: If you’re providing value and quality to people, they will continue to come and engage and show up for you. It’s a partnership ultimately.
MS: What is the most valuable advice you’ve received?
LXB: It’s one I received from one of my mentors in the area of communication. “Never assume because assumptions hurt people, ask the honest questions and are willing to truly hear and be open to the opposing side.”
MS: What is your definition of success?
LXB: Success is when others around you (teammates, family members, friendships, co-workers) are doing well and thriving & you have a small role to play in encouraging them along the way.
MS: What was a challenge you did not expect to overcome that you did?
LXB: Overcoming the notion that what I have to offer isn’t good enough. And I guess that’s my encouragement to anyone reading! Your work and your talents add value to your audience whether you’ve had a bad day in business or a bad day in creating. Know that the end result is so much appreciated and not taken lightly.
MS: Looking back on life, how have your values shifted or refined?
LXB: I used to be afraid to say, “ I don’t know” because my ego would get in the way. But now that I’ve approached 37 I say, “I don’t know, let's figure it out” with so much confidence and humility! It feels nice to be vulnerable in this way.
MS: What are you most proud of and why?
LXB: I’m proud to be a part of the representation. Lao food feels like the underdog in the world of social media & google searches. But I am hopeful with persistence we can get it to the mainstream!
MS: What does being a part of a community mean to you?
LXB: Community is giving & sharing. Whether it’s by sharing physical or economical contributions or lending our time and energy to the things that mean a lot to us.
MS: Say you were invited to a dinner party, what recipe do you bring to the table and why?
LXB: I’d bring a Crispy Coconut Rice Salad to the table. It’s not quite fried rice but it’s not a typical salad so it’s quite confusing to most! There’s a depth of flavor in this dish that makes people fall in love with Lao food.