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Hidden Gems: Meet Mara Chhea of The Chheas Kitchen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mara Chhea.

Hi Mara, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
The Chheas Kitchen started last year in September to be exact in the test phase but officially to the masses in October. I actually got laid off from my close best friend’s startup technology recruitment firm. We were technical recruiters with huge brands recruiting engineers into the top 10% of talent in startup land. Being let go at a company, I saw myself building to a multi-million company and having to let that go? It was a lot for me to unpack as a young adult. But, I am thankful for all this because The Chheas Kitchen was born bringing Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp into my home and my communities homes one colossal shrimp at a time.

I definitely went through a spiritual awakening, I started to do all my passions again and connected with my creative nature. I’ve been cooking since I was 12 years old but in an Asian household, it was never seen as a career choice because of its unlivable wages and culture. So I took the traditional route, got a healthcare degree and got recruited to be in sales and it was game over after that. I stayed in mostly business development and recruiting most of my corporate career.

I am so happy that last year happened because I am finally connected with my inner child again. I went to therapy and stopped being a people pleaser. Opened up my own Ghost Kitchen/Pop up Meet up. Truly, sharing food every week and constantly be sold out is a huge blessing. The SGV Eats community is so supportive of my dream and I love them so much. I even started to do meal preps to sustain my business and they have been receptive to that too.

I am realizing running a business takes a whole community and support system. I constantly break down and test my limits each day. But, I am getting more

accustomed to growth and I want to do more. I want to share my culture through food and what it means to be Cambodian-American. I am fluent in Khmer and the food I cook is usually a fusion of cultures because thats America.

Honestly, also big shocker I turned in one male-dominated industry for another, aye? Well, honestly I am not intimidated I am excited to trailblaze and make changes. Women are creative by nature, most home cooks are women. There needs to be more of us leading the way. I am here to say bring it. I have 0% restaurant industry experience but that did not stop me.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been rough, a lot of bad investments and learning gaps. But, I have a business coach now and mentors which has helped tremendously. Big things are coming. I am learning to trust myself and take calculated risks but also to not be afraid and be your authentic self. Also, what has help is the community of Asian women.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about The Chheas Kitchen?
We specialize Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp with a Cambodian Twist. We took off on SGV Eats because we cater to families the community in San Gabriel is predominantly multi-generational families therefore we have a lot of parties with food. Therefore, my close friends kept asking for Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp Trays and I offered to SGV community as well and they loved it. Our shrimp is different because we had shrimp paste and fish sauces. Plus, we have three spice levels of you can handle the heat.

What’s next?
We are going to continue to be a Ghost Kitchen. It’s me and my best friend Mei Su she is also my son God Mother. Our unemployment ends this month on Sept. 4th like everyone else. We feel blessed to have this opportunity to still be doing this. We also now have started to do private chef dining experience, catering, and cooking classes. Feel free to stay tuned we will be doing service video soon to get you a visual rundown of what we do.

Pricing:

  • $45 Hawaiian Garlic Colossal Shrimp Tray
  • $180 to $380 per person Private Chef Dining Experience
  • $80 to $200 per hour online or live cooking classes
  • $15 Hawaiian Colossal Shrimp Plate
  • $88 Hawaiian Garlic Colossal Shrimp and Lobster Tails Tray

Contact Info:

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