Meet Kav Ly, Chef in Charge of Bringing Authentic Asian Flavours to Your Table
With more than 20 years’ experience as a chef and after opening two restaurants of her own in Barcelona, Kav Ly, founder of Ta-Tung, has become an icon of oriental gastronomy in Spain. This Cambodian refugee, who fled the war that ravaged her country, arrived in Barcelona in 1979 following a brief stay in France. Her story is a prime example of overcoming adversity. It’s the story of an intelligent, innovative, enterprising self-made woman who has never stopped fighting for her dreams, and who, after overcoming all kinds of adversities, has achieved great success through perseverance, work and effort.
Innovating since 1980
In 1980, just a year after arriving in Spain, Kav Ly sowed the first seeds of what would become Ta-Tung by offering oriental recipes in an attempt to bring the best flavours of Asia to Spanish dining tables. At that time, Asian cuisine wasn’t very popular in Spain. But though her early days weren’t easy, her restless and enterprising nature led her to continue on this adventure. Today, Ta-Tung is the undisputed leader in Asian gastronomy in Spain.
Pioneer in Asian gastronomy in Spain
It was in 1980 when Kav Ly opened her first restaurant in Barcelona. At that time, she would also cook spring rolls and sell them in all kinds of markets, shops and restaurants, despite the distrust of many buyers, who knew little about Asian food. In the early 80s, there were only 10 Chinese restaurants in Barcelona, which of course meant another major challenge: sourcing ingredients for the restaurant. So it was that Kav Ly had to make a fortnightly trip to France to stock up on all the ingredients she needed for her dishes. If you want to achieve authentic Asian flavours, make your own curry powder at home. You’ll need quality ingredients that are very fresh. Ideally, rather than getting ground spices, buy them in their most natural state. Grind and mix them thoroughly and that’s all you have to do. You’ll have curry powder ready to give an Asian touch to your next culinary creation.
Overcoming all kinds of adversity
Kav Ly has encountered challenging stages on her path as an entrepreneur. An example is when, in 2006, she had to sell her house to avoid having to close or transfer her business. Fortunately, she was able to leave this rough period behind and things improved shortly after. With patience, determination and a long-term perspective, the entrepreneur managed to turn her small company focussed on spring rolls and yakisoba noodles into the undisputed leader in the sector by getting her product into almost all of the supermarket chains in Spain.
Entrepreneur and chef
Kav Ly’s profile as an entrepreneur is unconventional. She not only runs her company but is also the one behind all the recipes that come out of Ta-Tung’s kitchen. She combines her entrepreneurial role with that of chef and head of innovation.
Awards and recognitions
In her Barcelona restaurants, which specialise in Cambodian, Thai and Chinese cuisine, Kav Ly has also received prestigious commendations for her contribution to the development and recognition of Asian cuisine in Spain. What’s more, Ta-Tung also won the product of the year award for innovation in 2016, 2017 and 2018. In 2010, the brand won the Food Innovation Award.
Tuning into feelings
Trial and error. That’s the secret of Ta-Tung’s success. Kave Ly and her team develop the brand’s products as if they were working in a large restaurant. No industrial processes. Their process involves carrying out several tests with each recipe and, when it feels right, they develop the dish and add it to their catalogue.
Kav Ly is a prime example of someone overcoming adversity. Her story is pure inspiration! The founder of Ta-Tung has become the source of inspiration for many female entrepreneurs by showing that, with work and effort, everything you set out to achieve is possible. Want to keep track of all her moves? Don’t miss her blog!