“When my mom passed away in 2010, I lost my way. It was painful for me to lose her because I felt like I survived the genocide because of her love,” says chef Channy Laux, who began Angkor Food in 2012 to produce authentic Cambodian pantry staples based on her family recipes—including an aromatic Lemongrass Paste.

Her mother, Em, was orphaned at age 14 in Cambodia, later endured the brutality of the Khmer Rouge regime, and eventually immigrated to Nebraska in 1979.

“I used to make big batches of hot sauce with her and we’d talk about good things and laugh, and sad things,” says Laux. “I thought that this might be a good way to carry on her legacy because she loved to cook. I could actually do something to keep her memory alive besides just stories, something that you could touch and taste and feel.”

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Photos: Courtesy of Angkor Food