Throw To Grow Profile: Lan Thai from nathan m peracciny on Vimeo.

I just got back from a lovely dip in the motionless ocean this fine Aloha Friday morning. Got the coffee on slow drip, and as I wait for it to brew, I sit at my kitchen desk (with the World Cup playing in the background providing ambient noise) and I’m on my computer ready to tackle some catering quotes. I get a couple e-mails from newly engaged brides, who both mention how they saw the video on my website, and feel a direct and sentimental connection. They aren’t the first ones to mention this.

I instinctively decide to go back and watch the video that was filmed a little more than 2 years ago. I was being interviewed to help fundraise for Jimmy DiCarlo’s The Bokashi Bucket, which is now being sold at Whole Food locations all over Hawai’i and Southern California. There’s nothing more exciting than to see my friends realize their goals. I remember when Jimmy came up to me, when I was setting up my little tent outside Haleiwa Town Center, asking me about the Haleiwa Farmers Market. And then next thing I knew, we became market neighbors, that would blossom into long friendship, based mainly on our similar interests and lifestyle, of trying to do better for this world. We understood that it took a community, and that it was important to give more than take in this world.

As I look back at this video, I can’t help but to laugh. I remember when I first met the film crew, Nate and Jake, fresh off the plane from New York. Here’s these two ‘white’ boys still wearing dark denim jeans, dressed fresh in their New York city street fashion, sitting at my farmers market food bar. I say ‘white’ not as in ethnicity, but as in white as in haven’t seen the sun ‘white’.   Jimmy describes to me about the video and fundraiser they were trying to do and asked me to be in it. I was skeptical, not because of what they were doing, but because I hate being in front of the camera. Week by week, sitting at the bar as I provide them some fresh summer rolls and ginger juice, I would hear their stories of who they filmed and their experiences on the island. Then, finally after a month’s time, it was time. I even doubted it last minute and told Jimmy I didn’t want to be filmed. He wasn’t having it. He knew I was scared to be in front of the camera, but he told me that this video was going to change me and help my business as much as it would help him. He told me this is an invaluable experience and an opportunity too good to pass. Although, it wasn’t the opportunity I was thinking about at the time, I did it for Jimmy. I did it to help my friend help fundraise for the Bokashi Bucket.

Finally after one of the Sunday markets, I invited the crew to come over to my house. I told them I’d make them some food, enjoy some leftovers, as it was the only way for me to be comfortable to talk about myself. I prepared the film crew a traditional Vietnamese chicken congee rice soup, that my mom made for me as long as I can remember. The soup is full of both sweet and spicy flavors, packed with powerful, fragrant herbs. With each and every slurp, soup is one of the few only only food items that can take me back immediately to home. And I wanted to share that exact experience with the boys. So the crew came over, and Nate started filming right off the bat of me cooking which I wasn’t prepared for. Jimmy told me the interview was very freestyle and he’d ask me a few questions about myself and I’d just share whatever was on my mind. I was so nervous, I just wanted to be done with the interview. I just had a long day at the market, didn’t have time to shower or ‘look pretty’, but I didn’t really care. It was me and I just started rambling. Thank goodness for Nate’s expertise in editing!

After viewing this video after 2 years, I sit here and reflect and thing about all those steps that it took to get to where I am today. Even though I hate seeing myself on video, I am very impressed at their work and I can’t thank those boys enough for how much this video has helped me for my business today and tomorrow. Witnessing The Bokashi Buckets expanding and growing makes me feel so happy to know that I’ve too grown since that video. How helping out a friend, in return, actually helped me more. I sit and think about how I first started my food business at the street market festivals in Chinatown, Sunset Elementary, and setting up tent at the Haleiwa’s Farmers Markets. All the mistakes I made and how much I learned from them. I laugh thinking about my first street festival in Chinatown. It was a disaster! I even remember my first catering drop off. That was mediocre at best! But, boy did I learn. I’m constantly learning and growing and I can’t believe that my catering business has grown now to feed up to 150-200 people! I never thought I’d get this far. I feel so lucky! I love catering. I love cooking for people! I love knowing my food gets experienced on some people’s happiest day of their lives! And I love hearing messages from past customers still writing me cute love notes of how they still think about something I’ve cooked for them. Sometimes, I get so overwhelmed with joy and feel a bit indebted to those who have helped me get to where I am today. I have so much gratitude in this life.