For years, Chong and her friend would often meet at the Portland Farmers Market when it occurred to her that this would be the perfect place to showcase her kimchi. Chong really wanted to introduce Portland to the diverse varieties and flavors of kimchi. At that time, kimchi could not really be found at many grocery stores.
When Chong asked her son, Matthew, to help her apply for a booth at the Portland Farmers Market to sell her kimchi they didn’t realize how life changing this would be. Matt had just graduated from University of Oregon and went with his mom to drop off samples of her kimchi. To their surprise, the PFM said “yes” and Choi’s Kimchi was founded! The first day they opened their booth they sold out of everything by noon! Within a year, Choi’s Kimchi could be found in local retailers, co-ops, and restaurants.
After their first farmers market season, Choi’s Kimchi moved production from their domestic kitchen into a warehouse space located in a small industrial complex. With increasing demand, they would eventually need to expand into three more spaces within the complex over the next 9 years. After years of searching and planning, Choi’s Kimchi finally finds a larger facility with a lot of room to grow.
Choi’s Kimchi continues to produce hand-crafted kimchi, pickles, and specialty sauces inspired by the same traditional small batch process when they first started. Matt grew into a leader in the local food community – freely sharing his knowledge, advice, and support to other burgeoning food entrepreneurs. His dream was to grow Choi’s Kimchi into a household name. Though tragedy struck with Matt’s unexpected passing, his spirit and legacy remain. Every Choi’s Kimchi batch made continues to serve as a testament to this dream.
In partnership with the Portland Farmers Market and Choi’s Kimchi, the Matthew Choi Farmers Market Vendor Grant was recently established to support new vendors in achieving their dreams.