Sriracha sauce as we know it today was concocted in Los Angeles by David Tran, a Chinese-Vietnamese refugee, in 1980. Its iconic rooster bottle is recognizable the world over. We went to the factory of Huy Fong Foods, which makes the sauce, và got an inside look at how it’s made.

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We also interviewed Tran himself, who offered a lot of words of wisdom and insisted on speaking in Chinese.

Tran has given a lot of interviews in the past few years, mostly in English. His sound bites have sầu always been snappy, delivered in deadpan, broken English.

In one interview with East West Bank, he jokingly referred to Srirathân phụ as his girlfriend. And in a Bizarre Foods episode, Tran had a Yoda-esque aura when he gave sầu advice, making sure lớn enunciate each word.

David Tran, middle, during his appearance on Bizarre Foods.
David Tran, middle, during his appearance on Bizarre Foods. / Photo: Bizarre Foods

Our reporter didn’t get the same treatment.

“Can you speak Chinese?” Tran asked as we sat down for the interview.

There was a moment of hesitation before Clarissa Wei, our reporter, answered, “Yes.”

“Okay. Let’s speak in Chinese.”

And with that, our Goldthread interview was conducted in Chinese.

David Tran surrounded by Srirathân phụ memorabilia.
David Tran surrounded by Sriraphụ thân memorabilia.

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When you watch our đoạn phim, pay cthua thảm attention to lớn how Tran’s Chinese interview gives off a completely different vibe from other on-camera interviews he’s done in English.

Instead of the snappy caricature of himself that (quite literally) surrounds hyên ổn & the cult of Sriracha, Tran was quite somber and eloquent. He brushed off questions about the company’s past & present, and instead wanted lớn focus on more contemplative & philosophical questions.

“My success today is because of good fortune.”

“I didn’t have a plan or anything,” he said. “I’m very satisfied with what I have. I’ve already achieved my dreams. I don’t have sầu any more dreams.”

It felt as if in the seventh decade of his life, Tran no longer cared about the numbers, figures, or chili recipes anymore. He seemed more keen on passing down words of wisdom from one human to another, rather than participating in another interview about his lucrative hot sauce.

David Tran dropping some wisdom.
David Tran dropping some wisdom.

When he spoke lớn us, Tran didn’t embody toàn thân the stereotype of the eccentric, old Asian man talking about his sauce as his girlfrikết thúc. His voice had an air of authority because it was in his native sầu language.

We loved that we were able to lớn connect with hyên ổn that way, và it’s another reminder that language matters. People’s stories sometimes need their native tongue to carry them.

Correction: In the đoạn Clip, we said Tran left Vietphái mạnh in 1967. The date should have been 1978.

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Clarissa Wei
Clarissa Wei is a senior reporter at Goldthread. She spent the bulk of her career as a freelance journadanh sách & has written for outlets like VICE, CNN, Eater, amuốn others. Clarissa has backpacked khổng lồ over a dozen provinces in Đài Loan Trung Quốc và was once a volcano hiking guide in Nicaragua.
SrirachaHuy Fong FoodsDavid TranChinese-AmericansVietnamese Americans
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Written và Produced by: Clarissa Wei