An assortment of Thai Feast's new gluten-free broth powders.
Photo Credit: Margaret Clegg
When my husband I and were dating, we had a Sunday ritual. Asian food. It was a carry-over from a long held tradition he had with a college friend. When I finally realized most Chinese restaurants used regular Kikkoman soy sauce, which contains wheat, our ritual quickly ended.
Caroline Polly and her family would like to reverse that. While the focus of her family's award winning restaurant, Bangkok 96, isn't focused on allergy-free food, their new product line of seasoning packets are. Their broth powders will make it possible for families to enjoy restaurant quality foods in the safety of your own kitchen. Learn more about Michigan's own Thai Feast in Caroline's own words.
1. What inspired you to become a food producer?
Our restaurant patrons who came from all over Michigan and the ones who moved away inspired us. Throughout the years we have had customers who can’t reach the restaurant as much as they want. One time we even had a regular customer place a large carryout order to take on the plane to California so he could share our food with his family. That was our "aha" moment!
Gluten Free chicken noodle soup. It's what's PHO dinner!
Photo Credit: Margaret Clegg
2. Thai Feast originally started with frozen meals. Why the switch to seasoning mixes?
Our goal was to always find a solution for those who wanted healthier frozen meals that still tasted authentic. It has been 4 years since our frozen meals have been on the shelves, but we started to notice more demand for fresh food. We had plans to launch more gluten free frozen Thai entrees and even appetizers and soups, but freezer space was very tight, so we decided to expand into seasoning mixes. We still wanted to offer convenient options for consumers, because with our products you’re adding boiling water to get the sauce or broth base, then you can add vegetables or protein. Having a good flavor base for any recipe is key and tricky to make. Many people at local food shows tell me how hard and time consuming making Pad Thai can be, especially allergen free. That is another reason why I am very excited about these new dry mixes.
3. Your twitter cover photo highlights that your products are gluten free, nut free, soy free and vegan. Was this a happy coincidence or did you specifically set out to formulate your seasonings as such?
We knew from the get go that we were establishing ourselves as a gluten free company with vegetarian options. We hadn’t planned on creating a full line of vegan and allergen free products. After all, Thai cuisine is known for the culinary staple use of fish sauce, soybean based seasonings, and crushed peanuts on your Pad Thai noodles. To come out with Thai food without some of these ingredients was not easy. Without any technical experience except taste knowledge of Southeast Asian food, my mom, Chef Genevieve, spent nearly 2 years of experimentation in her test kitchen every night. This is all possible because of her commitment for healthier food solutions. It is definitely a win-win situation if one can enjoy a bowl of Pho or Pad Thai noodles without guessing what kind of possible allergens are lurking within.
Chef Genevieve Vang displaying Thai Feast her broth powders.
Photo Credit: Thai Feast
4. Are there other highlights of your products? Low sodium, fat free, etc?
Each flavor is low in sodium, sugar and calories. Our newest flavor, Chickpea Miso Broth Powder Mix, is not only plant based but it has no added sodium. Someone recently claimed that it almost taste like chicken noodle soup! I guess you can consider most of our powder based products three in one flavor usage. For example, our Pad Thai Seasoning Mix can turn into a BBQ marinade if you add olive oil and tamari sauce to it. It’s also great as a sweet and sour dish too.
5. What steps do you take to insure that your products are truly gluten-free?
Our new little manufacturing facility is a dedicated gluten free environment. Now that we have crafted the seasoning mix line with total confidence to ensure good flavor, we can concentrate on getting our facility gluten free certified.
6. Do you have any stories of customers who reported back to you how important your products have been in their life?
When we attend local food shows and someone sees our products for the first time, they are so relieved and thank us for reintroducing Thai food back into their lives. Some had to stop eating it due to various disorders and we notice that we’re often one of the few or only local companies offering an assortment of allergen-free Asian products made in Michigan.
7. What would you like consumers to know about Thai Feast products?
Thai Feast products are made by a mom and daughter who understand the importance of letting everyone enjoy an exciting cuisine such as Southeast Asian food without the worries of unnecessary ingredients. Our passion for food, cultural awareness and compassion fuel us every single day and we hope that it reflects in our products.
Gluten-free stir-fried tofu made with Thai Feast Coconut Red Curry sauce
Photo Credit: Margaret Clegg
I actually met Caroline and her family at a gluten-free expo years ago. My favorite story about them is their friendship with Clint Eastwood. When Clint was in Michigan filming his movie Gran Torino, her mom Chef Genevieve cooked all the food for the cast on set. They had a great picture on their business card of Clint hugging Genevieve. Real people making real connections. Love it!
Clint Eastwood displays food that Chef Genevieve Vang prepared during the filming of Gran Torino.
Photo Credit: Caroline Polly
Go to Miglutenfreegal to enter to win an assortment of Thai Feast broth powders! Contest runs from February 22nd 2016 to March 7th 2016!