Kayla Yang-Best is a busy working mother who wants to make scratch food at home that’s delicious and healthy, just like all moms everywhere.
But when she wants to make that food, it can require trips to four different grocery stores and days worth of preparation. That's because her home cooking involves things like pho and curry. And yes, she is thrilled that she can get good pho at lots of amazing local restaurants, but she, like you and me, doesn’t always want restaurant food or a restaurant experience.
“Sometimes I just want to curl up in my sweats and have good pho at home,” she says.
So, she’s making that possible for herself, and for you and me.
Her Spice Kitchen pho kits are high-quality building blocks for the delicious pho you might want to make at home but would perhaps never try because it seems like too daunting a task. Who wants to run around to four different grocery stores and simmer a stock for hours on end?
Well, Kayla does. Or at least she will, if it means bringing delicious pho into the home kitchen.
Spice Kitchen pho kits offer three different components, which can be mixed and matched according to your whims: pho noodles with seasoning spice, pho broth available in chicken, beef, and vegetable, plus optional condiments including Sriracha, soy, and hoisin sauce. The Spice Kitchen line also offers a pho spice seasoning packet that home cooks can add to their own stocks if they prefer, arriving with a bouquet garni pouch to steep in the broth for about 30 minutes. All of the products are all natural, and preservative and MSG free.
Once you assemble the base of the soup, add your own choice of protein, plus traditional pho garnishes like basil, bean sprouts, cilantro, scallions, and chiles (you'll have to procure those yourself, of course).
In addition to her Spice Kitchen brand, Yang-Best is in the midst of scouting out a commercial kitchen to help bring other under-served ethnic brands to market.
She’s hoping the kitchen will serve as a business incubator for communities and cooks who might get caught up in the red tape of bringing their amazing culinary products to market.
“I don’t like to use the term cultural appropriation," she says, but the preponderance of ramen and pho at non-Japanese and non-Vietnamese restaurants has caught her eye. "[That] would be fine, if access to markets were equal, but it’s not.”
So Yang-Best wants to see what she can do about equalizing that playing field.
Additionally, she says much of the culturally specific cooking she's interested in is not conducive to the restaurant setting, or those cooks do not necessarily want to run a restaurant. But the product might be perfect for retail, or to take home and finish in the home kitchen.
“There just needs to be more choices [for those cooks] to compete. With a lot of the food now, you don’t see the heritage of the people. And a lot of the new generations are forgetting how to do it.”
Less diversity of culinary influence is a lose-lose for both chef and consumer. She and her spouse, Andre Best, are still searching for that kitchen, and once they find it, we’ll be searching for the products created therein.
In the meantime, Spice Kitchen products can currently be purchased at a few specialty stores and boutiques, including Spiral Natural Foods in Hastings and Cooks of Crocus Hill. Spice Kitchen is also in the process of getting into the wider, major grocery store market.