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. Ted Ngoy was born in the Cambodian village of Sisophon near the country's border with Thailand. She grew up in Boyle Heights and graduated from Cal State Northridge with a bachelor’s in literature and a minor in journalism. How did those scenes end up happening?I asked him to travel to California again. UC Irvine library highlights materials from I-Ching to Astro Boy in its East Asian Collection. Ngoy would often visit Las Vegas for a period of a week, unbeknownst to his wife. Since then her writing has appeared in Calendar, Lifestyle, Metro and Sports sections of the paper. It really helped put some perspective on the journey to get here from somewhere else and the struggles that people go through when they arrive in a new, strange and foreign land. They barely talked to him. 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. Doing this film was really an exploration for me of understanding where you come from. 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 He is working in real estate. At his peak, Ngoy owned 65 shops and his wealth was estimated at US$20 million. He wanted to be with her, but he had no one else to manage the shop. 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. There’s a hustle to it, and director Alice Gu captures it in her debut documentary “The Donut King.”. Help might be on the way. She’s currently a features reporter for TimesOC where she covers art, books, entertainment, trends and cultural issues related to Orange County. [4], Ngoy secured work as a janitor with Peace Lutheran Church in Tustin, California. 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. He spent two months in Buddhist monasteries in Washington D.C and Thailand, to no avail. 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. You just have to see the opportunity and go for it.” Those are the wise words of Ted Ngoy. Ted is the first Cambodian refugee to start a donut shop in California. Ted Ngoy. [3], Ngoy worked at various jobs, including as a travel agent and tour guide, before joining the military in 1970. His secret: hard work in the extreme, a willingness to learn, and sheer determination. Ted Ngoy "The Donut King" Interview by Isabelle Cheam at Cambodia Town Culture Festival on April 8th, 2018. Following his time in the nation's capital, Ngoy spent time in a monastery in the Thai countryside where he spent his morning begging for alms. It was hurtful. Upon deeper glance, it was so personal for me. Distraught at the turn of events, Suganthini overdosed on sleeping pills and fell into a coma, causing her parents to relent to the union shortly after the couple recovered. 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. It actually made national, if not international, news about the kindness of these people in Orange County. The next day, he flew back to Los Angeles leaving behind his new wife and their two children. He said he’s Chinese Cambodian and we spoke Mandarin for a couple of minutes. Ngoy had become an example to other Cambodian immigrants, who began to follow his business model for their own entrepreneurial endeavors. TimesOC’s e-newspaper includes all six pages of Sunday’s coverage of Orange County. And it was actually a donut that I refused at first from Mayly Tao, the Donut Princess. That's because of a refugee who built up an empire, and became known as the Donut King, only to lose it all. Some of his relationships didn’t end well. and California landscape with a familiar coat — yellow strip mall signs with red lettering reading Christy’s Donuts. I ate the whole thing. 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. They have social media and know how to work it to innovate their parents’ old donut shops with a worldwide following. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. The Khoeuns immediately sent for an ambulance for Ngoy and had Suganthini locked in her room for days following the event. He is wealthy again. The Donut King: The Rags to Riches Story of a Poor Immigrant Who Changed the World (English Edition) eBook: Ngoy, Ted: Kindle-Shop 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 stands in front of his first independent donut shop in La Habra, named after his wife Christy Ngoy. What was it like?I spoke with him and he was in Cambodia. [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",, "The story of the man they called the doughnut king",, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 30 November 2020, at 09:04. TimesOC e-Newspaper: Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. The whole community banded together and they all agreed to sell him out of donuts every morning by 9 a.m. "[1] In 1977, the Ngoys took a trip to Las Vegas where Ted saw Elvis Presley. I think that’s the American way — the power of connections and people. 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. I called her when I found out and asked if she knew about Ford and Brown. I told him that he has a story to tell. 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. Ted Ngoy (born Bun Tek Ngoy; 1942) is a Cambodian American entrepreneur and former owner of a chain of doughnut shops in California. Although the locations shared a name, he made no effort to give them a cohesive brand identity. Then he opened his first independent shop in La Habra, eventually covering the rest of O.C. EN - English; ES - Español He writes about his extraordinary journey. Within three years of his arrival, Ngoy had became a millionaire with his own chain of doughnut shops across the city. When he was working in the donut shop, he went to his sponsor and said he was having a hard time. I am the child of immigrants who came and moved here for the American dream. When you first reached out to Ted, it was a cold call. This caused tension in the Ngoy household, being the center of many arguments between Ngoy and his wife. He started from the bottom and worked his way up. I wanted to tell this story in a way that was inspirational and optimistic. Vera Castaneda is a writer who has worked at the Los Angeles Times since 2016. By 1977 he was able to purchase his first doughnut shop, Christy's Donuts, in La Habra. Director Alice Gu makes her film debut with “The Donut King,” following the life of Ted Ngoy. 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. 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. This is an incredible story of how he helped people. 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. [1], Ted Ngoy was born in the Cambodian village of Sisophon near the country's border with Thailand. He soon desired to open his own donut shop. His sponsor told him people will have their prejudices but they mean well. Ted and a lot of the Asians who came aligned themselves with the Republican party. Once a paragon in the community, refugees now avoided him for fear of being asked for a loan. [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. When he found one, he would sit out front in his car for hours, drinking coffee and tallying customers. 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. 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. Handout So, there are holes in this doughnut story. How O.C. It was a strategy that ended up working for them. People made fun of his accent. 2,912 likes. Ngoy and his family enjoyed the fruits of their labor and at one point moved into a 7,000-square-foot mansion in Mission Viejo. What is Ted up to in Cambodia nowadays?Ted is doing well. He would have no more donuts to sell so he could be with his wife for the rest of the day. As part of its virtual exhibit “From I-Ching to Manga: UCI’s East Asian Collection Celebrating 30 Years,” the university library is offering online events throughout 2021 open to students and the community. For a year and a half, I struggled with how I was going to get access to that Mission Viejo mansion. Ted had met Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., [Richard] Nixon. To think about what Ted did years ago — letting bygones be bygones. Then he lost it all. The two eventually began a secret correspondence via letters delivered by the Khoeun family maid. 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. In 1975, a Cambodian refugee named Ted Ngoy and his family arrived in Southern California penniless. He subsequently received training through an affirmative action program to increase donut hiring within the Winchell's chain of doughnut shops, and managed a store in Newport Beach where he employed his wife ted nephew. Scouring classifieds, Ngoy looked for existing shops for sale by owner. Like everyone else, Orange County Asian Americans have struggled to adjust to the new reality brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Ted was dismayed. Getting an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine at Disneyland has proved to be difficult for many Orange County residents 65 and older. Over the years, he led thousands of his countrymen into... Erstklassige Nachrichtenbilder in hoher Auflösung bei Getty Images 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. He didn’t want to build a brand. [5] Despite her sheltered life and being forbidden from having friends or leaving the house other than for school, Suganthini fell in love. To understand the politics, the Republican party at the time was a very anticommunist party. 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. 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. The world moves so quickly now, but I do believe that it is still real and it is still possible. He was very surprised that anybody would find him and want to tell his stories. Cancel 0 Cart 0 items in shopping cart. Ted Ngoy Realty [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. What drew you to Ted’s story at the start?Finding out about his story, it’s fascinating — a guy who comes here penniless and becomes a Donut King. 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. Also, significantly for Ngoy, other Cambodian refugees and their children — donuts. Despite never really being a huge success under the previous owners, Christy's became popular under the ownership of the Ngoys. When he was unable to pay back his debt, he would sign over his store to them. nonprofits have responded to the impact of COVID-19 on Asian American seniors and business owners. He suggested that Ted hang out in the back and to put Christy in the front. Then things were thriving. By 1990, the ‘doughnut king’ was reported to be in the grips of a serious gambling habit. If you’ve ever enjoyed a donut that came from a pink box, you have Cambodian refugee Ted Ngoy to thank. I thought I would just get an exterior scene for context. After several years of hard work, the family took their first holiday and they went to Las Vegas. I’ve never experienced hunger, war, fear, served in an army, or had a wet and cold bed to sleep in. 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. He married Stephanie Ngoy, whose brother was one of Ted Ngoy’s first pioneers, and the couple ran two doughnut shops. Ted Ngoy, subject of the new documentary “The Donut King,” fled the Cambodian genocide to America, where he built a donut empire. 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. I could have made a special piece just on the history of donuts. 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. The Donut King who went full circle – from rags to richesIf you walk into a doughnut The Ngoys decided to keep uniformity amongst their shops, naming subsequent acquisitions Christy's. She got her start as an editorial assistant delivering mail and newspapers. [1], In 2013, he was living in Phnom Penh working in the real estate business. Virtual town hall addresses COVID-19 vaccine concerns in O.C.’s Asian American community. Also Jerry Brown, who we’ve seen in California as our beacon of hope and morality, in 1975 was actually the opposite. Also, significantly for Ngoy, other Cambodian refugees and their children — donuts. His family had moved from a condominium to a three-storey, US$1 million mansion. Suganthini's parents and cousins hid behind curtains in the home to ensure Ngoy would break off the relationship. His story has been told through different angles in a couple of articles. He hosted Dan Quayle and Pete Wilson at his house. [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. Ngoy attempted Gambler's Anonymous, but denies its help with his situation stating that when he went to meetings "I cry, everybody cry. 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. Search Search He is nicknamed the "Donut King." 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. EN. He’s really funny. People love her and she’s beautiful. There’s also the moment where Ted revisits his former home in Mission Viejo. We had an instant connection and it felt like we were meant to be doing this story together. He says to me, “Alice, making money — it’s so easy. Photo: Los Angeles Times … There’s this portion in the film that goes into Ted and his ex-wife Christy’s experiences in Orange County during the 70s. The donut business isn’t easy. Was there any tension or awkwardness when he visited California again?He came to visit California, I think, with a little bit of trepidation. She divorced him soon after and has not since returned to Cambodia. Ted Ngoy arrived in California with the American Dream in his heart. It was really wonderful. He was raised by his mother, who was from Shantou, Guangdong, and who only spoke Chinese. Ngoy's gambling had progressed from the card tables to placing bets on sports games with Cambodian bookies. 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. These are all people who present day you don’t associate with welcoming refugees with open arms. 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. The couple were wed shortly after and had three children. That is because I had a buttermilk bar about 30 seconds out of the fryer with fresh glaze on it. 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. 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. [1], After a particularly devastating gambling loss in 1990, Ngoy flew to Washington, D.C. and joined a Buddhist monastery where he spent a month meditating. He’s friends with Dana Rohrabacher. They’re savvy, young, hip. This is my own speculation, but it seemed like he had come to some peace with his dad and childhood. He lost everything and had to start from scratch. school board member who was at Capitol rally. In doing the research and finding that it was President [Gerald] Ford who issued the executive order to receive the refugees, a Republican president — that was a huge surprise to me given that during the time that we were making this film we were hearing Donald Trump’s rhetoric. After cry, go back gambling."

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