Nite Yun

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Joined La Cocina: May 2014

Where is Stockton? Stockton is 83 miles of California highway and drought-threatened farmland from San Francisco and 7,384 miles from Khangi Dan refugee camp in Thailand, where Nite Yun was born in Sept ember 1982. Khangi Dan, where Nite’s parents met, is uncounted miles away from the Khmer Rouge they were fleeing. Or that’s the story that Nite knows; a lot of secrets got left in Cambodia.

Why Stockton? Friends at the Cambodian refugee camp told Nite’s parents Stockton is like Cambodia, so after two years in Dallas, the family made its way there. Stockton is delta rich and money poor, home to three hundred thousand residents, and has both a rural, farming soul and drab strip malls with places like Burrito Express—Nite’s first cooking job. On the city margins are low-rise public housing units, home to a Cambodian community where older women sell noodle soups out of one-bedrooms. A Dodge Caravan slowly trawls the neighborhood, selling papaya salad for a dollar.

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