Steven Boghoskhan isn't a 3 star Michelin chef. He isn't a culinary expert specializing in the ancient methods of Sichuan cooking. Heck, he hasn't even been to China. He's just an Iron Chef watching, Anthony Bourdain reading, amateur cooking enthusiast that had no idea what he was missing out on, until a good friend turned his taste buds on to the wonderful world of chili oil.
“The story behind Panda goes like this. My buddy used to take me to this pho place named Simply Pho You in Korea town (Los Angeles). The Pho was ok, but their homemade chili oil was amazing. l had never had chili oil before that and was hooked.
One day we went in and they told us that they no longer were serving it. I couldn’t have pho without it, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I started scouring the internet looking for recipes, techniques and whatever else I could find to make my own. After a bunch of failed batches, I kept at it and tweaked my recipe until Purple Panda was born. I now was taking a jar with me to all the pho spots in LA with no intentions of ever starting a business.
My friends were really digging it, and so were strangers I was offering it to at restaurants, so I thought to myself why not try and market/sell it? I wasn’t in the food business and had no idea what I was doing or getting myself into, but thought, “why not give it go?”
I’m an editor and a musician, so I come from a creative background. I knew chili oil came from the Sichuan region of China, and while doing research, found out that pretty much all the pandas in the world come from Sichuan as well. It was a no brainer to use that in the brand. Purple is the color of royalty and rolled off the tongue quite nicely when paired with panda. So I went with Purple Panda. King of the chili oil. That’s where I was going with it. I had an idea for the logo that was loosely based on the famous Biggie Smalls portrait with the crown. I pitched it to a local artist, and he drew up a few mocks that eventually developed into the logo. I designed everything else myself, from the labels to the website, and have been a 1 man show every since. We’ve been around for a little over 2 years and are getting more popular among hot sauce lovers. I’m still learning and have quite a bit more to go, but I want to open people’s eyes to chili oil the way mine were opened by that small pho spot in Korea town.”