Chhea’s Kitchen Moves from Local Pop-Ups to the Culinary Spotlight

COVID Startup Highlights Elevated Cambodian Cuisine

ALHAMBRA, CA / ACCESSWIRE / December 10, 2021 / The COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn it created swelled the ranks of unemployed Americans from 6.2 million in February to 20.5 million in May 2020.

Mara Chhea, of The Chheas Kitchen, used to be a corporate recruiter. When she lost her job, she welcomed unemployment because it gave her a chance to try and pursue her passion. Chhea says, “I knew I had one more shot to go after my dream. So I started to reconnect with my passion for cooking.”

Chhea started cooking at 12 years old, learning recipes from her family communal cook, Ma-OM, which means Mom-Aunt in Khmer. Chhea’s first dish was Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp, which became a whole new creation after adding Khmer staples to the recipe.

When she shared her elevated culinary creation with friends, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Chhea says, “they said it I should put it for sale. I had nothing to lose, so I did, and everyone loved it!” This nod of approval sent Mara Chhea back into the kitchen to create a menu, and Chhea’s Kitchen was born.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 4.4 million new businesses were created in the U.S. during 2020 – the highest total on record. 49% of the new entrepreneurs are women. Many new small businesses like The Chhea’s Kitchen benefited from digital technology in their startup phase.

The Chhea’s Kitchen’s initial offerings were all take out because of California’s lockdown. When the pandemic restrictions loosened, Mara Chhea put her technical and business development background to use to take her business to the next level. Chhea booked her calendar full of pop-up events at the famous breweries, bars, and local eateries around San Gabriel Valley and the Los Angeles Metropolitan area. Her following grew, and soon she was part of a new breed of restauranteurs demanding notice in the culinary world.

C.N. Traveler reports, “A new wave of Cambodian American chefs are sharing the cuisine’s bright, umami-rich flavors in pop-ups and restaurants throughout the country.”

The Chhea’s Kitchen is honored to be sharing the foods of Mara Chhea’s culture with the world. Chhea says, “food connects all of us. Food is simple; if it’s good, people will eat it. I decided to be myself and take a chance. Maybe the world will love it! And I was right.”

With plans to expand soon and open a restaurant with an indoor play cafe – and a Cambodian Grocery Store attached to sustain the business for the long run – Mara Chhea hopes she will inspire women from all walks of life to follow their hearts. Chhea says, “take risks and go after what you want. It’s all possible, and you can kill it.”


The Chhea’s Kitchen Serves elevated unique Cambodian Cuisine in the greater Los Angeles area and San Gabriel Valley region. The menu is based on owner Mara Chhea’s favorite childhood dishes and elevated with Khmer staples. The Chhea’s Kitchen has been featured on Eater LA, DTLA Weekly, Voyage LA, and Fung Bros for its sensational Cambodian-Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp and other Cambodian dishes. Mara Chhea is a self-taught home chef/pop-up restaurateur who has been cooking since she was 12 years old, and is the author of The End of Her 20’s in 2020, describing her journey as a young foodie entrepreneur. Try The Chhea’s Kitchen cuisine on ChowNow, or visit them on Facebook and Instagram.

Mara Chhea

SOURCE: The Chhea’s Kitchen

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