• Chantha Nguon's memoir, coming 2/20/2024



    “I’ve never read a book that made me weep, wince, laugh out loud, and rejoice like Slow Noodles. In Chantha Nguon’s harrowing, wise, and fiercely feminist memoir, cooking is a language—of love, remembrance, and rebellion—and stories are nourishment."


    Maggie Smith, New York Times bestselling author of "You Could Make This Place Beautiful"


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    Take a well-fed nine-year-old with a big family and a fancy education. Fold in 2 revolutions, 2 civil wars, and one wholesale extermination. Subtract a reliable source of food, life savings, and family members, until all are gone. Shave down childhood dreams for approximately two decades, until only subsistence remains.


    In Slow Noodles, Chantha Nguon recounts her life as a Cambodian refugee who loses everything and everyone—home, family, and country—all but the remembered tastes and aromas of her mother’s kitchen. She takes us back to the quiet rhythms of 1960s Battambang, her provincial hometown, before the dictator Pol Pot tore her country apart and exterminated more than a million Cambodians, including ethnic Vietnamese like Nguon and her family. Then, as an emigrant in Saigon, the author loses her mother, brothers, and sister and eventually flees to a refugee camp in Thailand. For two decades in exile, she survives by cooking in a brothel, serving drinks in a nightclub, making and selling street food, becoming a suture nurse, and weaving silk.


    Nguon’s irrepressible spirit and determination come through in this lyrical and inspirational memoir that includes more than twenty family recipes for dishes like chicken lime soup, green papaya pickles, and pâté de foie, as well as Khmer curries, stir-fries, and handmade bánh canh noodles. Through it all, recreating the dishes from her childhood becomes an act of resistance, of reclaiming her place in the world, of upholding the values the Khmer Rouge sought to destroy, and of honoring the memory of her beloved mother, whose “slow noodles” approach to healing and to cooking prioritized time and care over expediency.


    For readers who devoured Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner and The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil, Slow Noodles is a testament to the power of food to keep alive a refugee’s connection to her past and spark hope for a beautiful life.

  • About Chantha Nguon

    Author. Social entrepreneur. Khmer cooking expert.

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    Chantha Nguon

    Survivor & Social Entrepreneur

    In 1970, nine-year-old Chantha Nguon fled Cambodia, leaving behind a happy childhood, spent mostly in her mother’s kitchen. As her homeland plunged into the darkness of Pol Pot’s “Year Zero,” Chantha and her mother and sister resettled in war-torn Saigon and used their culinary artistry to eke out nourishing meals from garbage rations.


    By age 24, Chantha was alone in the world, with no family or savings. She spent ten hungry years in squalid Thai refugee camps, hoping to begin a new life in America. When that hope died, she went home to Cambodia and rebuilt a life amidst the ruins—in part, by resurrecting her mother's recipes.


    SLOW NOODLES is Chantha's upcoming memoir of losing everything and fighting to get it back, a reflection on strength and survival, and a love-letter to the mother who gave her the recipes for both.

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    Mekong Blue

    A Social Enterprise in Stung Treng, Cambodia

    In 2001, Chantha and her husband Chan created a successful social enterprise for women in remote Stung Treng province. At the Stung Treng Women’s Development Center, women weave shimmering “Mekong Blue” silk scarves on hand-built looms, bring their children to an on-site kindergarten, and make a living wage.


    Having made her own way out of poverty, Chantha has found happiness and purpose in lighting the path for others.


    Click here to learn more about Mekong Blue silk and the social services at SWDC.

  • Images from Mekong Blue & SWDC 

    In a remote Cambodian village, women learn to weave exquisite silk scarves and new lives of economic independence.

    Stung Treng Women's Development Center:

    A day in the life of a Cambodian social enterprise

    Interview with Chantha Nguon:

    The SWDC co-founder, on finding a life's work by offering women a way out of poverty

  • Sample Dishes

    Dive into Khmer home cooking, from simple dinners & finger food to holiday feasts. 

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    No-Brainer Meal

    Easy recipes, familiar ingredients

    Stir-fried noodles (w/ meat or veg)

    Coconut sticky rice dessert

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    Khmer Favorites

    Popular & defining dishes

    Khor tamarind—a Battambang-style stew with pork and chicken

    Coconut sticky rice dessert

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    For Special Occasions

    Fancy food that's worth the effort

    Amok: Khmer-style fish curry

    Stir-fried morning glory with rice

    Bánh flan

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    Cambodian Breakfast

    Noodle soup for breakfast? YES!

    Kuy Teav—noodle soup with fun toppings

    Vietnamese iced coffee

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    Homemade Noodle Soup

    Chantha's mom's slowest noodles

    Bánh canhchicken soup w/ homemade rice noodles

    Vietnamese iced coffee

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    Vietnamese Specialties

    Dishes from next door

    Bánh xeo—crepe with pork & shrimp

    Vietnamese iced coffee


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    Vegetarian Friendly

    Dishes for veggie lovers

    Green curry with tofu, long beans, & eggplant

    Tofu fried with lemongrass & garlic

    Green papaya pickles

  • Schedule a Class

    Scroll down for dates, times, and prices.



    Scroll down & choose the class you want.


    Pay Online

    Click purchase button to go to EventBrite, where you can reserve and pay.



    We'll teach you to cook a meal, then sit down & eat it together.

  • FAQ

    An introduction to Khmer cuisine

    What is Khmer cooking like?

    Cambodian food resembles the cuisines of Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand, but with a few defining tastes that set it apart—including sour-tasting soups with tamarind or lime, and prahok, our famous fermented fish paste.

    Can I find the ingredients?

    Although some supplies might play hard to get, most U.S. cities have specialty markets that carry things like rice paper wrappers, lemongrass, Thai basil, glutinous rice, tamarind, coconut milk, palm sugar, and a wide variety of noodles. And most of the ingredients—such as pork, rice, eggs, shallots, garlic, or fish—are available in any grocery.

  • Cooking Videos

    Starring Chantha and Clara

    Fried Spring Rolls

    Chantha Nguon

    Prepared on a Khmer-style charcoal grill in her Phnom Penh courtyard

    Mee Chha

    Clara Kim

    A delicious egg noodle stir-fry with chicken and bok choy

    Bobor Sam Jok

    Clara Kim

    A favorite Khmer comfort food: rice porridge with pork

    Lemongrass Fried Tofu

    Chantha Nguon

    An easy way to make tofu exciting and tasty

    Bánh Flan

    Clara Kim

    A Southeast Asian take on the classic crème caramel

    Num Kruok

    Chantha & Clara

    A Khmer coconut/rice pancake and popular street food

    Beef & Jiacama Spring Rolls

    Chantha & Clara

    Fresh rolls 2 ways—for vegetarians and meat lovers

    Bánh Xèo

    Chantha Nguon

    The how and why of cooking Vietnamese crepes. Hint: It's about togetherness.

    Fried Spring Rolls

    Chantha Nguon

    Chantha demonstrates her mother's famous recipe for pork spring rolls, fried over a Khmer charcoal grill

  • Stories & Recipes

    Musings about memory, culture, cooking, and eating.

    September 23, 2021 · refugees,Saigon,Afghanistan,women's empowerment
    July 22, 2019 · cooking,memoir,Cambodian food,home cooking,banh xeo
    March 11, 2019 · social enterprise,malnutrition,world hunger,poverty,Cambodia
    More Posts
  • Press for Slow Noodles & Mekong Blue

    The Gradual Extinction of Softness (Hippocampus Magazine: Nov. 2021)

    Chosen as a top story of the week by Longreads, The Browser, FERN, HackerNews, and BMoreArt.

    Much-Needed Reckonings

    (Chapter 16, Jan. 2022)

    The story of how Chantha and Kim became accidental food writers together—and learned from fellow writers.

    Doors Open, the World Enters In (Nashville Lifestyles, Fall/Winter 2019)

    She Despised the Flavor of Short Cuts (Roads & Kingdoms, 2016)

    An "Improper Woman," by Clara Kim (Nashville Scene, 2015)

    Won a national AAN award in 2016.

    ‘Social’ businesses pursue profit with a cause (Nashville Business Journal, 2011)

    Silk Scarves Combat Sex Trade (NPR's Morning Edition, 2009)

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