Ngoy lived in a small attic apartment a couple blocks away from the Khoeun mansion and would play flute music at night to woo Suganthini. He didn’t want to build a brand. His family had moved from a condominium to a three-storey, US$1 million mansion. The world moves so quickly now, but I do believe that it is still real and it is still possible. Ted Ngoy. Ted is the first Cambodian refugee to start a donut shop in California. Ngoy spent a total of 45 days in the mansion before being discovered by Suganthini's parents and subsequently kicked out. Bush and encouraged fellow Cambodian immigrants to support the GOP. In … Ted and a lot of the Asians who came aligned themselves with the Republican party. Less than a decade later, he was a multimillionaire at the helm of an unlikely empire of independent donut shops that continue to dominate the west coast and fend off advances by large chains such as Dunkin’ Donuts. Alice Gu’s film introduces us to Ted Ngoy, a refugee who escaped from a hellish, war-torn country in 1975, came to the U.S. with no money or friends. EN. What was surprising for me was watching Ted, a Republican, pictured with Pete Wilson at one point in the film since Wilson supported laws that hurt immigrants.It’s wild. He says to me, “Alice, making money — it’s so easy. She got her start as an editorial assistant delivering mail and newspapers. Some of his relationships didn’t end well. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have posted lower infection rates compared to other racial and ethnic groups but make up about 19% of deaths from COVID-19. Director Alice Gu makes her film debut with “The Donut King,” following the life of Ted Ngoy. [3], Ngoy worked at various jobs, including as a travel agent and tour guide, before joining the military in 1970. They have social media and know how to work it to innovate their parents’ old donut shops with a worldwide following. Tell me more about how they connected to the local community.Ted came in the 70s and it was quite homogeneously white in Orange County at the time and a lot of people had never seen an Asian person, much less heard of a place called Cambodia. UC Irvine developing vaccine that targets all coronaviruses. How did those scenes end up happening?I asked him to travel to California again. In 1975, a Cambodian refugee named Ted Ngoy and his family arrived in Southern California penniless. Ngoy also involved himself in American politics, joining the Republican Party and hosting fundraisers for George H.W. Then he lost it all. Despite her sheltered life and being forbidden from having friends or leaving the house other than for school, Suganthini fell in love. [7][3], Ngoy's fortunes improved dramatically, such that by the mid-1980s Ngoy had amassed millions of dollars through his expanding doughnut shop empire, reported as 50 locations throughout California. I thought it was so profound that this was the very same community that just a couple of decades earlier were making fun of somebody who worked at the counter and had an accent. The city of Irvine has settled a 1st Amendment lawsuit that alleged former Irvine Mayor Christina Shea blocked a resident after he posted comments on her personal page in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. He did not fare well in either the 1993 or 1998 parliamentary elections, but his friend, Prime Minister Hun Sen, made him an advisor on commerce and agriculture. And I thought, “How could that be?” He’s passed away now so I can’t talk to him about it, but it was a learning experience for me about my parents’ relationship with politics. In 1975, Ngoy fled the Khmer Rouge with his wife and three children to Camp Pendleton. You just have to see the opportunity and go for it.” Those are the wise words of Ted Ngoy. What is Ted up to in Cambodia nowadays?Ted is doing well. The premise of family in the film is how hard your parents work and the sacrifices they make so that you can have a life better than they did. Ngoy's political career ended in 2002 after breaking with two powerful allies, the commerce minister and the head of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce. He was raised by his mother, who was from Shantou, Guangdong, and who only spoke Chinese. The second time Ted came back to California, Chet took all this time off of work, took him to his timeshare in Oceanside and drove his dad around all over Southern California. Was there any tension or awkwardness when he visited California again?He came to visit California, I think, with a little bit of trepidation. When you first reached out to Ted, it was a cold call. He would have no more donuts to sell so he could be with his wife for the rest of the day. He was raised by his mother, who was from Shantou, Guangdong, and who only spoke Chinese. [1], When his wife returned to California for the birthday of a grandchild in 1999, Ngoy began an affair with a young woman, serving as the final straw between him and his wife, Christy. Ted Ngoy (born Bun Tek Ngoy; 1942) is a Cambodian American entrepreneur and former owner of a chain of doughnut shops in California. It was on the market. He wrote a book called “The Donut: History, Recipes, and Lore from Boston to Berlin” and he gave really fascinating insights into donut culture, history and our relationship to donuts in America. He is nicknamed the "Donut King." Once a paragon in the community, refugees now avoided him for fear of being asked for a loan. She served brief stints as a city reporter for the Daily Pilot and an education reporter for the Burbank Leader and Glendale News-Press. [5] [4], Despite the wealth he had amassed and his importance within his community, Ngoy felt dissatisfied, remarking that he had "No political life, no religious life, just work, work. Doing this film was really an exploration for me of understanding where you come from. These are kids who are American educated. Ted Ngoy sits on the bed in the room in Long Beach in November, 2004. Chet and Savy, Ted Ngoy’s oldest children, sit down for an interview in “The Donut King.”. To think about what Ted did years ago — letting bygones be bygones. "[1], After the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in 1993, Ngoy returned to Cambodia for the country's first elections. Ted Ngoy once owned a huge chain of doughnut shops across the US state of California and was known as “The Donut King”. It's the rags to riches story of a refugee escaping Cambodia, arriving in America in 1975 and building an unlikely multi-million-dollar empire baking America's favorite pastry, the donut. He’s really funny. Santa Ana’s LibroMobile will host its third Literary Arts Festival on Jan. 23 through Instagram. When he was working in the donut shop, he went to his sponsor and said he was having a hard time. In our very first phone call, he asked if I was American and I told him that I was Chinese American. How O.C. What new information did you learn in the making of the film?There was a lot that was new to me. The Khoeuns immediately sent for an ambulance for Ngoy and had Suganthini locked in her room for days following the event. The same goes for if you’ve been to California and tasted a donut from one of the many shops owned by many other Cambodian refugees like Ngoy, who have proven over time to be a top competitor with the likes of Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks. We had an instant connection and it felt like we were meant to be doing this story together. Ted Ngoy arrived in California with the American Dream in his heart. Ted Ngoy and I couldn’t be farther apart. Suganthini's parents and cousins hid behind curtains in the home to ensure Ngoy would break off the relationship. Handout So, there are holes in this doughnut story. I instantly found the Realtor, the listing agent and arranged to go and have Ted walk through his old house. And it was actually a donut that I refused at first from Mayly Tao, the Donut Princess. While working a second job at a gas station, Ngoy took notice of a busy local doughnut shop and inquired of its operators about learning the business. Ngoy had little ego in the game; he didn’t care if his donut shops were easily identifiable as his. Interestingly, largely because of Democratic policy we got a grant for our camera and it came from this girl, who was the daughter of Vietnamese refugees who landed in Arkansas. Something else about Orange County that I found so beautiful and touching while we were making this film, there was a man who owned a donut shop in Seal Beach and his wife was stricken with cancer. Ted Ngoy was born in the Cambodian village of Sisophon near the country's border with Thailand. He suggested that Ted hang out in the back and to put Christy in the front. EN - English; ES - Español He writes about his extraordinary journey. [8], Military Career and Immigration to the United States, Last edited on 30 November 2020, at 09:04, "Rise and fall of Cambodian refugee 'Donut King' charted in award-winning film", http://articles.latimes.com/2005/jan/19/local/me-donutking19, "The story of the man they called the doughnut king", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ted_Ngoy&oldid=991486239, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 30 November 2020, at 09:04. His secret: hard work in the extreme, a willingness to learn, and sheer determination. and California landscape with a familiar coat — yellow strip mall signs with red lettering reading Christy’s Donuts. He is wealthy again. Which donut shop do you find yourself going back to for the sake of eating a donut?I had my out of body experience at DK’s Donuts and Bakery in Santa Monica. How Ted Ngoy Jumpstarted the Cambodian Donut Shop Business In an article titled, How One Cambodian Refugee Started Southern California’s Donut Empire, author Gowri Chandra discussed how Cambodian refugee Ted Ngoy, immigrated with his family to San Diego, California, and changed the donut industry forever. We were taxed to the hilt, unemployment was high and he was very reluctant to give refugees a home here when Californians were out of work. By 1980, Ted Ngoy owned 20 Christy’s shops in Southern California. The donut business isn’t easy. By 1987, Ngoy owned 32 Christy's Donuts locations, largely accomplished by living out of a motorhome allowing him and his family to travel up and down the state of California establishing new locations. After cry, go back gambling." He formed the Free Development Republican Party ahead of the country’s UN-backed elections believing that he could show others the path to wealth and hoping that in being a politician his gambling addiction would be stymied. He said that we didn’t have room for these refugees here. The Donut King who went full circle – from rags to richesIf you walk into a doughnut More than 6,600 people have signed an online petition demanding the resignation of a Placentia-Yorba Linda school board member who was present at a rally that led to the siege of the U.S. Capitol. There’s so much competition. I could have made a special piece just on the history of donuts. Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber. That really broke the ice for us. He’s friends with Dana Rohrabacher. Upon deeper glance, it was so personal for me. Ted Ngoy was born in the Cambodian village of Sisophon near the country's border with Thailand. For a year and a half, I struggled with how I was going to get access to that Mission Viejo mansion. These are all people who present day you don’t associate with welcoming refugees with open arms. Also, significantly for Ngoy, other Cambodian refugees and their children — donuts. A day before he left, his eldest son said if you have $3.2 million you can buy it. There were some hurt relationships. I am the child of immigrants who came and moved here for the American dream. There’s this portion in the film that goes into Ted and his ex-wife Christy’s experiences in Orange County during the 70s. I thought I would just get an exterior scene for context. Help might be on the way. One night, Ngoy devised a plan to sneak into the heavily guarded mansion that housed Suganthini, allowing the couple to meet for the first time. Ngoy had become an example to other Cambodian immigrants, who began to follow his business model for their own entrepreneurial endeavors. That's because of a refugee who built up an empire, and became known as the Donut King, only to lose it all. Then things were thriving. Although the locations shared a name, he made no effort to give them a cohesive brand identity. Shortly after reiterating what he was forced to say, he admitted that what was said was a lie and stabbed himself in the stomach. One of them being my interview with Michael Krondl, the food historian. Since then her writing has appeared in Calendar, Lifestyle, Metro and Sports sections of the paper. It was really wonderful. Ted Ngoy is from Cambodia, and his story starts and ends here. To understand the politics, the Republican party at the time was a very anticommunist party. Despite never really being a huge success under the previous owners, Christy's became popular under the ownership of the Ngoys. He is working in real estate. After several years of hard work, the family took their first holiday and they went to Las Vegas. Ted Ngoy on IMDb: Movies, Tv, Celebrities, and more... Oscars Best Picture Winners Best Picture Winners Golden Globes Emmys STARmeter Awards San Diego Comic-Con New York Comic-Con Sundance Film Festival Toronto Int'l Film Festival Awards Central Festival Central All Events This is my own speculation, but it seemed like he had come to some peace with his dad and childhood. People love her and she’s beautiful. At his peak, Ngoy owned 65 shops and his wealth was estimated at US$20 million. They’re savvy, young, hip. 2,912 likes. Like everyone else, Orange County Asian Americans have struggled to adjust to the new reality brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. He was very surprised that anybody would find him and want to tell his stories. He tasted his first donut at a Tustin gas station, trained as a baker in a La Mirada Winchell’s and ran his own Winchell’s store in the Balboa Peninsula. He hosted Dan Quayle and Pete Wilson at his house. Then he opened his first independent shop in La Habra, eventually covering the rest of O.C. He spent two months in Buddhist monasteries in Washington D.C and Thailand, to no avail. He subsequently received training through an affirmative action program to increase minority hiring within the Winchell's chain of doughnut shops, and managed a store in Newport Beach where he employed his wife and nephew. Ngoy would often visit Las Vegas for a period of a week, unbeknownst to his wife. What was it like?I spoke with him and he was in Cambodia. I can’t take credit for it, but I do feel like in the making of this film and having some of these people face feelings that they hadn’t confronted in many years, it was very healing. This is an incredible story of how he helped people. I’m also, again, the daughter of Chinese American immigrants and my dad was a big Republican party supporter. I ended up not sharing that donut. Irvine settles lawsuit that accused former Irvine mayor of violating a resident’s 1st Amendment rights. As far as the immigrant experience and my parents — what it really did for me is open my eyes and I just cut them some slack about growing up here in conflict with wanting to be an American kid and their Chinese ways of raising me. She grew up in Boyle Heights and graduated from Cal State Northridge with a bachelor’s in literature and a minor in journalism. This caused tension in the Ngoy household, being the center of many arguments between Ngoy and his wife. [2], In 1967, Ngoy was sent by his mother to study in the capital, Phnom Penh, where he fell in love with Suganthini Khoeun, the daughter of a high-ranking government official. Ted had met Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., [Richard] Nixon. Also, significantly for Ngoy, other Cambodian refugees and their children — donuts. Search Search Microsoft.com. His story has been told through different angles in a couple of articles. The couple were wed shortly after and had three children. [6][3], Ngoy bought additional doughnut shops in Orange County. Ted Ngoy was a high school student in Phnom Penh when he first set eyes on Suganthini Khoeun, the daughter of a high-ranking government official. Nearly every independent donut shop in every Southern California mini-mall hides a story — and many of them start with an unlikely impresario, a Cambodian refugee named Ted Ngoy. Did working on this film change or contribute to your perspective of the American dream or immigrant stories?It seems like these days the American dream is harder and harder to attain. He lost everything and had to start from scratch. Scouring classifieds, Ngoy looked for existing shops for sale by owner. It was here that Ngoy had his first taste of gambling while placing bets at the Blackjack tables. I wanted to tell this story in a way that was inspirational and optimistic. The two eventually began a secret correspondence via letters delivered by the Khoeun family maid. He became tired running doughnut shops on his own and decided to train and lease shops to his relatives and employ Cambodian refugees. It actually made national, if not international, news about the kindness of these people in Orange County. Ngoy built a vast donut shop empire across California and it started in 1970s Orange County. I ate the whole thing. There’s a hustle to it, and director Alice Gu captures it in her debut documentary “The Donut King.”. A map of Christy’s Donuts, Winchell’s and Dunkin Donuts across California during the height of Ted Ngoy’s entrepreneurship in the 1970s through the 1990s. Ted sponsored hundreds of visas for incoming refugees and helped them get on their feet teaching them the ways of the donut business. Is there anything that you left on the cutting room floor that you still think about?There are a lot of things that I still think about on the cutting room floor. I’ve never experienced hunger, war, fear, served in an army, or had a wet and cold bed to sleep in. Ted was dismayed. Vera Castaneda is a writer who has worked at the Los Angeles Times since 2016. Ted Ngoy, subject of the new documentary “The Donut King,” fled the Cambodian genocide to America, where he built a donut empire. Owner of 25 Christy’s Doughnut shops from San Francisco to San Diego, he is one of the most successful Cambodian business executives in the country. That was super mind blowing for me to hear the political flip-flop and really insightful about another time when politics were more civil and there could be discussion. [1], In 2013, he was living in Phnom Penh working in the real estate business. The next day, he flew back to Los Angeles leaving behind his new wife and their two children. Chuong Lee Tao passed down DK’s Donuts in Santa Monica to her daughter Mayly Tao, who updated the shop with a vast menu and a worldwide social media following. It was a strategy that ended up working for them. Also Jerry Brown, who we’ve seen in California as our beacon of hope and morality, in 1975 was actually the opposite. People made fun of his accent. Ted's story is one of fate, love, survival, hard knocks, and redemption. TimesOC’s e-newspaper includes all six pages of Sunday’s coverage of Orange County. Through the maneuvering of his brother-in-law, chief of police and briefly future president of Cambodia, Sak Sutsakhan, Ngoy was promoted to the rank of major and appointed military attache at Cambodia's embassy in Thailand. Christy was in the front and made a lot of inroads with the community and built a lot of bridges. Upon his return to Orange County, Ngoy began gambling harder than ever stating "Monks cannot help me, Buddha cannot help me. Designers Andrew Hem and Charlie Le were awarded a SWSW Film special jury recognition for their poster design of “The Donut King” in 2020. In 1985, Ngoy and his wife became American citizens assuming the American names of Ted and Christy, respectively, and were enjoying a lavish lifestyle including a million dollar home at Lake Mission Viejo, a vacation home in Big Bear, expensive cars, and vacations to Europe. In this condensed and edited conversation, Gu talks about the American dream, Cambodian American Republicans, 1970s Orange County and the best donut she ate during filming. He also sponsored more than 100 Cambodian refugee families and established a path of financial opportunity for them in America. If you’ve ever enjoyed a donut that came from a pink box, you have Cambodian refugee Ted Ngoy to thank. He dissolved his party and accused the government of corruption. Khoeun's parents denied Ngoy's suitability as a mate for their daughter due to his lower social class, and instructed Ngoy to break off the relationship with Suganthini at a relative's home. [4], Ngoy secured work as a janitor with Peace Lutheran Church in Tustin, California. Ted Ngoy Realty, Kompot Chhuk, Kampong Thum, Cambodia. He saw an opportunity to expand his business and help the large number of poor, unassimilated Cambodians who had fled the Khmer Rouge to the United States. Ngoy proved to be a shrewd businessman — he’d been a payroll specialist in the army — and by 1979 he owned 25 shops and was on his way to becoming a legend. The film follows an immigrant tale of the American dream through Bun Tek “Ted” Ngoy, a Cambodian refugee whose charmed life is full of war, romance, entrepreneurship, racism and a caution about greed. The whole community banded together and they all agreed to sell him out of donuts every morning by 9 a.m. The Donut King: The Rags to Riches Story of a Poor Immigrant Who Changed the World (English Edition) eBook: Ngoy, Ted: Amazon.de: Kindle-Shop I’ve also never built an empire of donut shops, been wealthy, or rubbed shoulders with people with political influence. It was hurtful. When he found one, he would sit out front in his car for hours, drinking coffee and tallying customers. Interviews can sometimes feel like a therapy session. And she said she knew a lot of people in her parents’ generation who are lifelong Republicans and that’s why they hate the Democratic party. By 1990, the ‘doughnut king’ was reported to be in the grips of a serious gambling habit. The proclaimed 'Donut King' taught his family how to build and sustain a business. A few return visits later, however, Ngoy began gambling. There’s also the moment where Ted revisits his former home in Mission Viejo. 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