We had the good fortune of connecting with Timothy Kwong and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Timothy, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
K&T Kitchen started as a fun project inspired by our love for culinary experiences, and a desire to bring nostalgia to everyday meals. My business partner, Kiti, and I both have full time careers in the medical field and happen to share a passion for cooking foods that remind us of our unique upbringings of living in China and Thailand. Our staple product came about when I was working on perfecting my own unique chili oil and I would have Kiti taste test the creations. Once I had perfected the recipe that is now our “OG chili oil”, we both shared it with family, friends, and co-workers. Although our original intention was never to turn it into a business, we began to receive an overwhelming response to the oil: everyone who got a taste loved it and wanted more! From there, we thought it would be fun to make the product available to anyone who wanted to try it. And thus, K&T kitchen was born.
What should our readers know about your business?
I think what sets our company apart is the fact that it was never intended to be a business – just a fun project! K&T Kitchen was developed as we shared a byproduct of what we love doing: creating delicious food and sharing this aspect of our culture with family and friends. Because of this, the business happened almost in a reverse way. Rather than coming up with a business plan and model, everything happened suddenly because there was an instant demand for our chili oil once friends and family had a taste and shared it with their circles. We decided to go for it and then we built our company from there!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If we were to build a fun itinerary for friends visiting San Diego, we would create a trip balanced with adventure and delicious food. San Diego holds many possibilities for anybody who enjoys the outdoors. On the first day, we would rent beach cruisers and ride along North Harbor Drive down to the ferry port and cross over to Coronado. After spending the day there, we would visit Saiko sushi and Moo creamery, two of our favorite local spots on the island. The next few days would include rollerblading along the boardwalk at Mission Beach, visiting the variety of museums Balboa Park has to offer, renting paddle boards to discover the coves near La Jolla, and watching the airplanes fly right above our heads from the Aladdin Parking structure downtown. Our favorite eateries would be spread out throughout the week. For breakfast, we would visit the Mission, Breakfast Republic, and the Great Maple. Taco Tuesday would look like lunch at Salud in Barrio Logan, our favorite street taco truck off of Telegraph Canyon Road near the 805, or tacos El Gordo. For a delicious Asian dinner, we would visit Yakitori Taisho in Clairemont or Thai food at Bahn Thai. Our go-to’s for Italian food include Cesaria and Pomodoro – two Point Loma restaurants that are constantly slammed because of their charming Italian atmospheres and amazing menus. And, if we really wanted to go fancy, end with a dinner at Juniper and Ivy in Little Italy. On our last night we would snag boba at Kung Fu Tea on Convoy street and pop in one of the local karaoke bars. Clearly, we love to eat and believe it enhances the San Diego experience.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
One of the biggest influences in turning this project into a business has been my dear friend and now business partner Kiti. I never had the intent of selling and creating a company to sell my chili oil. She has been a force in motivating our business and helping to launch it into fruition. Her passion for our product and enthusiasm to share something we love has only helped our business grow and thrive and become what it is today. Our local San Diego friends have been a major driver as well, including Justin Wright and Christian Alvarez who put our company name out there and have helped us get to where we currently are.
Images are credit of Kitima Chaimongkol and Timothy Kwong