PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – To honor the legacy of one of its founders, the friends and family of Choi’s Kimchi are raising money to help other small businesses grow.
The company has been a vendor at the Portland State University Farmers Market for more than a decade. From the vendors to the shoppers, Peter Choi said it’s the people who make farmers markets so special.
“You know, the neighbor next to you will lend you with a helping hand by even helping set up a tent if you need it,” he said. “And so just to be a part of that community and just to be a part of the Portland Farmers Market, I mean, it’s a real special place.”
At this particular market, Peter’s brother Matt could often be seen with their mom, selling kimchi on Saturdays.
“It’s where Choi’s Kimchi got its start,” Peter said. “It’s where we formed our first relationships.”
Peter said he saw how deep those bonds at the market had become when Matt’s life ended in 2020. Amid the family’s grief came an outpour of support from people in the food industry, the farmer’s market, and even customers.
“What can you say? It’s just so much love,” Peter said.
In Matt’s honor, the family has developed the Matthew Choi Farmers Market Vendor Grant, which awards up to $1,500 for new food and farm business entering Portland-area farmers markets.
“Especially with somebody like Matt who’s been very like, out there and mentored a lot of other people, to see that love kind of coming back and the support that’s been given, I just think that there’s just a real connection and a bond with everybody here,” Peter said.
Peter said it’s the best way to return support to a community that helped them grow.
“We feel like in doing this, it really keeps the legacy of my brother Matt going, and it would be something that he would just really appreciate,” he said.
Choi’s Kimchi follows family recipes in its Northeast Portland factory, where they make different kinds of kimchi — as well as Korean red chili paste known as gochujang.