Long Beach Culinary Duo Builds Community Through Multicultural Cuisine

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Photos by Asia Morris.

On a cool midsummer Saturday evening in Long Beach’s Rose Park neighborhood, Company of Khanh and Aliye Aydin of A Good Carrot collaborated on a multi-course Turkish-inspired experience, feeding pop-up dinner guests with eastern mediterranean foods such as beef kofte and basmati rice pilaf tossed with grape leaves.

Long Beach native Khanh Hoang has been running her small business, Company of Khanh, for almost two years, organizing pop-up dinners inspired by fare from around the world at private residences and public parks.

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Aydin, who is also a Long Beach local, started her blog A Good Carrot about two years ago based on her 20 some years of experience in the food industry and her interest in making healthy cooking more available to eaters and readers. You might also recognize Aydin from her produce home delivery service, Beachgreens, which she ran for eight years.

This is the first time Aydin and Hoang have ever collaborated, and according to how the evening went off without a hiccup or hurried maneuver, it won’t be the last. With Aydin’s industry experience and love for cooking nourishing food, and Hoang’s passion for traveling and bringing multicultural sustenance to guests, the term “too many chefs in the kitchen” was the last thing to come to mind while observing the duo work throughout the evening.

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Puff puff with peanut and betel leaf pesto and jackfruit for appetizers.

The two met a mere couple of weeks before the Midsummer Dinner Party, with Aydin divulging that she’d been following Company of Khanh since Hoang returned home from a trip to Turkey about a year ago and created a pop-up dinner called “WTF?” as in “Where’s the Turkish Food?” marking the start of the company.

“I just saw the Turkish thing and said who is this girl? Because Turkish food isn’t really that well represented,” Aydin said, whose Turkish heritage shone through several of the dishes served that evening.

“And it’s insane that it isn’t because it’s so good,” Hoang followed.

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Charcoal grilled grass-fed beef kofta.

The match made in culinary heaven collaborated to bring their 20 to 30 dinner guests fire roasted butterflied golden pompano with spicy tomato sauce to the table, charcoal grilled grass-fed beef kofta, with the two entrees book ended by peanut and betel leaf pesto drizzled over sweet and crunchy puff puffs, paired with jackfruit, a sweet corn salad served family style and for dessert, a scoop of olive oil ice cream served with grilled stone fruit. Before sitting down to eat, attendees sipped on rosemary rhubarb gin fizz cocktails.

Over the past two years, Company of Khanh has grown from a little known culinary secret to a local treasure. And based on the opportunities now being presented to her, Hoang’s passion for nourishing (and creating) community through serving a variety of eclectic cuisine, may become known on a more national level.

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Olive oil ice cream served with grilled stone fruit.

Hoang is quitting her day job as a nurse within the next two weeks to run Company of Khanh full time. Next on the docket may be a pop-up she was asked to cater in New York come October. She says the universe is telling her to focus on this dream of helping people eat better food, without the overpriced exclusivity that, albeit well-intentioned, “farm-to-table” culture oftentimes touts. She wants Company of Khanh to remain inclusive and maintain its focus on diversity and simply bringing people together.

“This is how I’m going to build my empire,” Hoang said. “I don’t know what it’s going to be yet, but it’s going to be with food, and women, and it’s going to be with health […] I have a lot of ambition and I want to get a lot of stuff done and I want to help my community.”

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Aliye Aydin of A Good Carrot and Khanh Hoang of Company of Khanh.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.