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. It was hurtful. In our very first phone call, he asked if I was American and I told him that I was Chinese American. Was there any tension or awkwardness when he visited California again?He came to visit California, I think, with a little bit of trepidation. I’m Chinese American. She’s currently a features reporter for TimesOC where she covers art, books, entertainment, trends and cultural issues related to Orange County. Then he lost it all. [3], Ngoy worked at various jobs, including as a travel agent and tour guide, before joining the military in 1970. In English, Mandarin and Cambodian with English subtitles; Not rated, Playing: Regency South Coast Village, Santa Ana, and in limited release where theaters are open; available via virtual cinemas, including Laemmle Theatres. Somewhere along the line, things shifted. school board member who was at Capitol rally. I am the child of immigrants who came and moved here for the American dream. The Donut King who went full circle – from rags to richesIf you walk into a doughnut Handout So, there are holes in this doughnut story. Ted sponsored hundreds of visas for incoming refugees and helped them get on their feet teaching them the ways of the donut business. By 1980, Ted Ngoy owned 20 Christy’s shops in Southern California. How O.C. 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. Ngoy would often visit Las Vegas for a period of a week, unbeknownst to his wife. I ate the whole thing. 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's gambling had progressed from the card tables to placing bets on sports games with Cambodian bookies. 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. He writes about his extraordinary journey. He started from the bottom and worked his way up. By 1990, the ‘doughnut king’ was reported to be in the grips of a serious gambling habit. Also, significantly for Ngoy, other Cambodian refugees and their children — donuts. 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. EN - English; ES - Español Some of his relationships didn’t end well. 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. Ted and a lot of the Asians who came aligned themselves with the Republican party. He said that we didn’t have room for these refugees here. Santa Ana’s LibroMobile will host its third Literary Arts Festival on Jan. 23 through Instagram. Vera Castaneda is a writer who has worked at the Los Angeles Times since 2016. These are kids who are American educated. His sponsor told him people will have their prejudices but they mean well. As Orange County expands its vaccine distribution, UC Irvine researchers are developing a vaccine that could prevent coronavirus outbreaks in the future. What was it like?I spoke with him and he was in Cambodia. 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. Within three years of his arrival, Ngoy had became a millionaire with his own chain of doughnut shops across the city. Over the years, he led thousands of his countrymen into... Erstklassige Nachrichtenbilder in hoher Auflösung bei Getty Images And it was actually a donut that I refused at first from Mayly Tao, the Donut Princess. Suganthini's parents and cousins hid behind curtains in the home to ensure Ngoy would break off the relationship. 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. TimesOC’s e-newspaper includes all six pages of Sunday’s coverage of Orange County. For a year and a half, I struggled with how I was going to get access to that Mission Viejo mansion. Ted Ngoy "The Donut King" Interview by Isabelle Cheam at Cambodia Town Culture Festival on April 8th, 2018. 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. When he was working in the donut shop, he went to his sponsor and said he was having a hard time. Ted Ngoy. 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 … 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. It actually made national, if not international, news about the kindness of these people in Orange County. He is wealthy again. Designers Andrew Hem and Charlie Le were awarded a SWSW Film special jury recognition for their poster design of “The Donut King” in 2020. UC Irvine library highlights materials from I-Ching to Astro Boy in its East Asian Collection. [6][3], Ngoy bought additional doughnut shops in Orange County. 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. He became tired running doughnut shops on his own and decided to train and lease shops to his relatives and employ Cambodian refugees. Director Alice Gu makes her film debut with “The Donut King,” following the life of Ted Ngoy. I could have made a special piece just on the history of 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. Also, significantly for Ngoy, other Cambodian refugees and their children — donuts. This is an incredible story of how he helped people. There’s a hustle to it, and director Alice Gu captures it in her debut documentary “The Donut King.”. 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. I think that’s the American way — the power of connections and people. "[1] In 1977, the Ngoys took a trip to Las Vegas where Ted saw Elvis Presley. The Khoeuns immediately sent for an ambulance for Ngoy and had Suganthini locked in her room for days following the event. Scouring classifieds, Ngoy looked for existing shops for sale by owner. 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. Ted's story is one of fate, love, survival, hard knocks, and redemption. That phrase “Donut King” is already so eye-catching right off the bat. Ngoy built a vast donut shop empire across California and it started in 1970s Orange County. 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. When he was unable to pay back his debt, he would sign over his store to them. The couple were wed shortly after and had three children. Ted Ngoy and I couldn’t be farther apart. Ted Ngoy was born in the Cambodian village of Sisophon near the country's border with Thailand. He said he’s Chinese Cambodian and we spoke Mandarin for a couple of minutes. [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. The two eventually began a secret correspondence via letters delivered by the Khoeun family maid. He didn’t want to build a brand. I say, “Ted I don’t think it’s that easy at all.” And he’ll respond, “I’ve been rich three times. 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. Interviews can sometimes feel like a therapy session. It was really wonderful. I called her when I found out and asked if she knew about Ford and Brown. Ngoy spent a total of 45 days in the mansion before being discovered by Suganthini's parents and subsequently kicked out. Ted is the first Cambodian refugee to start a donut shop in California. He also sponsored more than 100 Cambodian refugee families and established a path of financial opportunity for them in America. To think about what Ted did years ago — letting bygones be bygones. His family had moved from a condominium to a three-storey, US$1 million mansion. Ted Ngoy once owned a huge chain of doughnut shops across the US state of California and was known as “The Donut King”. 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. "She … The world moves so quickly now, but I do believe that it is still real and it is still possible. UC Irvine developing vaccine that targets all coronaviruses. Once a paragon in the community, refugees now avoided him for fear of being asked for a loan. 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. Getting an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine at Disneyland has proved to be difficult for many Orange County residents 65 and older. 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. 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. He was raised by his mother, who was from Shantou, Guangdong, and who only spoke Chinese. He lost everything and had to start from scratch. 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. That really broke the ice for us. A day before he left, his eldest son said if you have $3.2 million you can buy it. It was a strategy that ended up working for them. Ngoy built a vast donut shop empire across California and it started in 1970s Orange County. Ngoy had little ego in the game; he didn’t care if his donut shops were easily identifiable as his. Then things were thriving. 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. 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. They barely talked to him. He was raised by his mother, who was from Shantou, Guangdong, and who only spoke Chinese. I thought I would just get an exterior scene for context. 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. MEET ''TED NGOY'' If you walk into a doughnut shop in California, the chances are it's owned by a Cambodian family. 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. By 2005, after a failed political career in Cambodia, Ngoy was penniless and living on the porch of a fellow Parkcrest Christian Church parishioner's mobile home. I ended up not sharing that donut. Upon his return to Orange County, Ngoy began gambling harder than ever stating "Monks cannot help me, Buddha cannot help me. I’m also, again, the daughter of Chinese American immigrants and my dad was a big Republican party supporter. and California landscape with a familiar coat — yellow strip mall signs with red lettering reading Christy’s Donuts. 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. In … Cancel 0 Cart 0 items in shopping cart. 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. This is my own speculation, but it seemed like he had come to some peace with his dad and childhood. By 1977 he was able to purchase his first doughnut shop, Christy's Donuts, in La Habra. Ngoy also involved himself in American politics, joining the Republican Party and hosting fundraisers for George H.W. Upon deeper glance, it was so personal for me. There’s this portion in the film that goes into Ted and his ex-wife Christy’s experiences in Orange County during the 70s. He not only made a success of himself; he shared his good fortune with scores of relatives and friends. I’ve never experienced hunger, war, fear, served in an army, or had a wet and cold bed to sleep in. That is because I had a buttermilk bar about 30 seconds out of the fryer with fresh glaze on it. His secret: hard work in the extreme, a willingness to learn, and sheer determination. He wanted to be with her, but he had no one else to manage the shop. He would have no more donuts to sell so he could be with his wife for the rest of the day. What is Ted up to in Cambodia nowadays?Ted is doing well. A few return visits later, however, Ngoy began gambling. 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. He hosted Dan Quayle and Pete Wilson at his house. 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. The proclaimed 'Donut King' taught his family how to build and sustain a business. Ted Ngoy sits on the bed in the room in Long Beach in November, 2004. [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. Literary Arts Festival spotlights local and visiting artists of color. 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. It was on the market. [1], Ted Ngoy was born in the Cambodian village of Sisophon near the country's border with Thailand. She served brief stints as a city reporter for the Daily Pilot and an education reporter for the Burbank Leader and Glendale News-Press. 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. Chet and Savy, Ted Ngoy’s oldest children, sit down for an interview in “The Donut King.”. This caused tension in the Ngoy household, being the center of many arguments between Ngoy and his wife. Thousands sign petition demanding resignation of O.C. That's because of a refugee who built up an empire, and became known as the Donut King, only to lose it all. 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’s really funny. Search Search Microsoft.com. 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. They’re savvy, young, hip. I told him that he has a story to tell. Ngoy would make a habit of returning monthly to watch performers such as Tom Jones, Diana Ross and Wayne Newton and indulging in the incentives pit bosses of major casinos offered all the while spending even larger sums at the card tables. 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