Theary Ngeth, a Cambodian woman, stands in her kitchen with arms spread in a welcoming gesture.

EMERALD EATS: Theary’s Kitchen

Emerald Eats is a bi-monthly documentary series featuring chefs, farmers, and entrepreneurs who are building a more diverse, meaningful food culture in South Seattle and South King County. This series will focus on local businesses and the role they play in the fight for more sustainable and equitable food systems in our communities. We’ll bring you behind the scenes — and into the lives — of the people transforming what we eat through community, culture, tradition, and innovation.

by Dylan Cate


Can cooking reconnect us to loved ones we’ve lost? Can changing our relationship to food also change our relationship to our parents and our past? 

Theary Ngeth’s relationship with food has always been complicated. When she was a young child in Cambodia, her family escaped the Khmer Rouge, bringing only what they could carry.  They ate only what they could find along their long journey to a refugee camp in Thailand.  When her family ultimately settled in the U.S., Theary’s mom was a prolific and accomplished cook — but the food was always for someone else. As the wife of a buddhist priest, she fed the community at weddings, social gatherings, and a community center for Cambodian elders. So as a teenager, Theary rejected cooking, doing whatever she could to avoid the kitchen when her mother prepared big meals. For Theary, these meals were the reason her parents spent plenty of time and attention to nourish the community but never enough time with her.  

Everything changed for Theary, however, when her mom passed away. Now, running her own Cambodian food kiosk in South Seattle, Theary isn’t just trying to reconnect with her community. She’s forging a new relationship with her mom’s memory and taking up the legacy her mother left behind. Watch her story here, on Emerald Eats


Spice Bridge is home to Food Innovation Network’s Food Business Incubator program, which helps South King County women of color and immigrants start and grow thriving businesses. Spice Bridge provides the space and support to help these entrepreneurs launch and scale to successful local businesses while also providing a community hub and space where people can gather to learn about and celebrate the community’s rich food traditions.

Dylan Cate (@dylan_eats_everything) is an avid eater and filmmaker dedicated to sharing the stories of the people powering Seattle’s food scene. He’s worked in the labor movement and progressive politics for 10 years and lives in White Center with his wife Maddie and big-boned cat, Frank. 

📸 Featured Image: Still from Emerald Eats Episode 1.

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