Ted Bun Tek Ngoy grew up poor in Cambodia, went on to build a multimillion-dollar doughnut business in the US, then lost it all thanks to a gambling addiction
Filmmaker Alice Gu is a self-professed foodie – but she found herself genuinely stumped when her son’s nanny told her about a particular confection two years ago.
“I had never heard of these ‘Cambodian doughnuts’ … and when I tried them it was an out-of-body experience.” It was delicious, she says, even though “it was just a glazed doughnut”.
When Gu searched for the snack online, she came across a Cambodian refugee named Ted Bun Tek Ngoy who had once owned a huge chain of doughnut shops across the US state of California. She then “literally devoured everything” about Ngoy, aka “The Donut King”.
“Someone had to make a movie about him, and that someone had to be me,” the 42-year-old, second-generation Taiwanese-American says by phone from Los Angeles, where she was born and raised.