Homegrown Business: Annie Nguyen of Haute Foods

Haute Foods is a local food business serving up many types of crispy garlic chilli oils to its ever-growing consumer base. You can find their products in several local BC stores, though stockists go as far out as Montreal. Haute Foods got its start in the kitchen of a Laotian family, handed down to the Founder and CEO, Annie Nguyen, who we spoke with, to find out more about what they do.

 

Haute Foods

What is your business called and what does it do?

Our business is called Haute Foods. A play on words with word “Haute” as in fancy, high-class and fashionable, because our crispy garlic and chili oils look that good! Haute also pronounced “Hot” as in spicy because our chili oils are actually hot. We make crispy garlic and chili oils that enhance any meal.

What made you want to do this work?

I’ve always loved hosting and cooking meals for friends and family and having this family recipe gave me the opportunity to share a part of my cooking with others.

What problem did you want to solve with the business?

A problem I wanted to solve is having a chili oil/condiment that was actually spicy. I’ve tried lots of others from grocery stores and could not find any that was actually spicy and tasted good. The crispy garlic in our products just gives it that extra enhancement to any meal because of course, garlic goes on anything!

Who are your clientele/demographics?

We have clients who are from their early 20s all the way to 60+. Demographic-wise, we are very diverse because garlic and chilis go well with all types of cuisines.

How does your business make money? How does it work?

We do online sales and also wholesale to retail stores. We have a co-packer in Richmond that makes all of our products to CFIA standards to ensure the safety of all of our products. I am currently managing almost everything in the business.

My husband Peter does the backend website stuff because I’m not tech-savvy and he also drives me around to make deliveries sometimes. My cousin, Van, who is part of the team, is usually with me at all the conventions and events we attend. A true small business!

Where in the city can we find your profession?

You can find us in some BC local retailers as well as a few in Montreal and one small but mighty shop in Winnipeg!

What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.

What makes your product different from the others?

The crispy golden garlic chips that stay crispy till the very last bit, and its versatility! It’s also not so much an “Asian” chili oil even though it was derived from my background of Laos. Since the ingredients are used widely in all other ethnicities (garlic and chili flakes), it’s very easy to just top some of our chili and garlic oils on any meal without altering the taste of the main dish. We want to enhance your meals, not change their flavours. This is why our products are so versatile and can be used by anyone.

Haute Foods

What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?

The best part would be seeing people share and post about our products and love them!

The worst part wouldn’t be anything. I think every part of the business is a learning and growing experience. Since this is my first business venture, I’m enjoying all the knowledge and advice given to me by all the other wonderful entrepreneurs in the food products industry.

What is your favourite joke about your own profession?

This is more of a comment that we get often when people ask us how spicy our chili oils are. Then when we put a glove on (for sanitary reasons) for sampling, the person trying it would say something like “Oh it must be spicy since you’re putting gloves on!” but no it’s not, it’s just for food safety.

Where can we follow you?

Instagram | Facebook

You can follow us for tasty recipe ideas!

PAY IT FORWARD: What is another local business that you love?

There are too many to name just one but to name a few…

Angkor Harvest – They make 1 ingredient dried fruit snacks, spices and tasty sauces that are from their background of Cambodia.

BKH Jerky – Family-run business for over 30 years making fresh Singaporean jerky (burnt ends are my favourite)

Rise Up Marketplace – Love their vibe and being part of the community. Making fresh baked goods and meals daily. Jamaican patties are a must when you stop by!

The drive Canteen – Cool snack shop with a ton of options to choose from. Reasonably priced hotdogs and nachos made in-house. I love that they support tons of other local businesses in their store. They also sell sneakers, toys and a bunch of other fun things!

The Local Space – A badass women-run business with fun vibes that support hundreds of local brands throughout Canada. If you’re looking for unique gifts they have convenient gift boxes they curate for specific occasions!

There’s a list of other businesses that I love but this would be a never-ending article.

 

 

About Emilea Semancik 26 Articles
Emilea Semancik was born in North Vancouver. Emilea has always always wanted to work as a freelance writer and currently writes for the Vancouver Guardian. Taking influence from journalism culture surrounding the great and late Anthony Bourdain, she is a recipe author working towards publishing her own series of books. You can find her food blog on Instagram: