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Conversations with the Inspiring Davy Khy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Davy Khy.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ve worked in the fashion industry for over 12 years. It has taken me all over Europe and Asia and even to Hong Kong to live for a couple of years. When I was ready to move back to the U.S., I took some time off to travel through Asia and spend time in Cambodia to explore my heritage. I felt so grateful that I had this opportunity to see the beauty of the country, where my parents survived a genocide in the late 1970s. It was during this trip that I decided I wanted to make a cookbook of all my mother’s Cambodian recipes to capture and share a very important part of my culture. However, when I returned to Los Angeles, I got busy with work and well, you know, life. I kept putting off the idea of the cookbook.

A couple of years ago, a brand I was working for shut down due to financial issues from the changing retail climate, leaving me unemployed. It was then that I realized I wasn’t ready to hop back into the corporate world. I decided that it was the best time for me to finally work on my passion project–the Cambodian cookbook. I can always go back to work but I can’t buy back time. I stopped looking for work altogether, launched my food blog, rebranded my food Instagram, and devoted all my time to the cookbook.

Then, I got sidetracked again. Even though I wasn’t looking for a job, a company approached me with an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. I mistakenly thought I could continue working on the cookbook and also manage a full-time job. I was wrong and that’s okay. Life has many detours that you learn from. These detours can help get you back on a better track. This time, I made the decision to walk away from my corporate job to be an independent consultant, which would allow me the flexibility to pursue my passion project full time again. Now, I’m at the end stages of the cookbook. I’ve completed almost 60 recipes and I’m planning a trip back to Cambodia this year to really bring this experience full circle.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It definitely has not been a smooth journey. I got caught up in my career in the fashion industry, which didn’t leave me much time to enjoy cooking. I also got involved in a few serious relationships with men who had different dietary restrictions. Because food is how I connect and bond with people, I ended up adjusting my cooking and diet to accommodate theirs.

It wasn’t until I was laid off and had the opportunity to stop and reassess my life, that I realized I needed to pursue my passion project of creating this cookbook. But I didn’t know where to start. I was overwhelmed with self-doubt and fear. Actually, when I had this realization, I felt the urge to cry. Am I making the right decision? Where do I begin? How would I support myself? What about my career in fashion? Am I even a good enough cook? What do I even know about publishing? While it’s normal to have these fears, I didn’t let them stop me. I just simply started cooking and writing. From there, I borrowed a camera from a friend. Then I invested in some props for my photos. And so on. Each step led me to the next.

My advice for other women is if you have a passion, follow it. Start by changing up something in your life. Sometimes, we get comfortable in our situations. Changing things up allows for other things to fall into place.
It can also help you feel inspired and motivated to take that first step on your journey, which is the hardest part.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Love in My Belly story. Tell us more about it.
I am working on a cookbook of my mother’s Cambodian recipes. I love everything about food–cooking, learning new recipes, sharing dishes, trying new dishes, food styling, food photography, and exploring new restaurants. Food is a huge part of my culture and how my mother expresses her love. As a first generation American, I don’t want her recipes to get lost with time. Cambodian food is an underrepresented cuisine in the USA. It is important to me to create this cookbook so I can share my stories and these dishes with my family, the next generation, and the world.

I think that I have a unique story to tell through my recipes. My parents survived the genocide in Cambodia. I was born in a refugee camp as my parents were making their way to the USA. My mom raised 3 girls as a single parent. I’m proud of this project and happy that I will have these recipes forever.

Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
Growing up in the United States as a first-generation American girl, torn between a mixture of cultures—American and Cambodian-Chinese, I didn’t understand the importance of a home-cooked meal. One of my earliest memories was of me as a 2nd grader on a field trip, where we had to bring our own lunches. I don’t remember where we were going on the field trip, but I distinctly remember the feeling of embarrassment when my classmates pulled out their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Squeeze-It juices, and chips from their My Little Pony or She-Ra Princess of Power lunch boxes. All I had was a plastic grocery bag with rice and Chinese sausage wrapped up in aluminum foil. I felt so embarrassed that I didn’t eat my lunch at the picnic table with everyone else. I held onto my lunch until we got back onto the bus. I tried to sneak some bites in then, only to be caught by one of the teachers and scolded for eating on the bus. My lunch was quickly taken away from me and thrown into the garbage. When I returned home that day, my mother scolded me for not remembering to bring back the spoon she had packed in my lunch bag. What a waste, she said in Khmer. I was too scared to tell her that it was the teacher that threw out my entire lunch bag, which included the spoon. I not only missed lunch and came home hungry that day, but I was scolded twice.

As an adult, I’m proud of my Cambodian heritage and our cuisine and I’m excited to share it with the world.

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