Tee and Peda Lee grew up together in Conover. The cousins spent countless days with extended family. There was always food.
“We’d hang out with our older cousins and uncles, and they were always grilling and always around food,” Tee said.
That started their culinary journey. As they grew, the two started helping out in the kitchen, cooking side by side.
Peda found a love of food and its ability to create bonds.
“I really love the idea that food brings people together and whenever you're around food people don't have other words,” he said.
Together, the pair got more creative with their cooking and eventually agreed to open a food truck.
Last year, they decided to go forward with the ideas. They named it Munchies Paradise. They bought a truck, created recipes and started learning how to operate a small business. The COVID-19 pandemic presented a road block — closing restaurants, weakening the economy and discouraging people from going out.
Peda and Tee decided to postpone their food truck opening. In late 2020 they tried again. They found success. The food truck books private events weekly and sets up at different locations weekly.
“We get a lot of support from the community and friends and family,” Peda said. “We never could have gotten anywhere without their support.”
The food truck serves up fresh snacks inspired by the southeast Asian meals they grew up eating, plus a few of their own ideas. The signature dish is a sausage sandwich.
Typically, the southeast Asian sausage — filled with a blend of spices — is eaten with rice on a plate. Peda and Tee decided to put it on a sandwich.
“We just like to get creative with our cuisines,” Peda said.
Everything they sell is made from scratch, Tee said.
“It really comes down to the freshness of the ingredients and just knowing exactly what we put in there,” he said. “The customer knows that when they come here they’re getting fresh food.”
The truck also sells chicken wings, fries, soup, spring rolls and more. The menu changes often so return customers can try new things.
Meeting customers has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of the business, Peda said.
“It’s the meeting new people part I love,” he said. “I always like meeting new people; they have their own experiences and ideas.”
The cousins work hard to bond with their customers and brighten their day, Tee said.
“I hope they enjoy coming to our food truck,” he said. “We try to have a fun atmosphere. I think we try to make it as friendly as we can be. We’re from a small town and we’re family oriented. And we want to be really welcoming.”