North Texas Daily

Good & Golden brings Lao cuisine to Denton

Good & Golden brings Lao cuisine to Denton

Good & Golden brings Lao cuisine to Denton
July 14
12:00 2022

A group of diners gather around the kitchen as Lasamee Kettavong, university alumna, 29, begins her demonstration. Holding her Lao mortar and pestle, she teaches the crowd how to make jeow, a Lao dipping sauce. Traditional sticky rice baskets sit on the stove waiting to be used for her next lesson.

The cuisine shared is inspired by the dishes of Kettavong’s childhood. Raised by a family of Lao refugees in the United States, she said they are what bind her to her culture. As the founder and co-owner of Good & Golden, she offers this authentic Lao and Lao-American food to the Denton community.

“Being able to share that with people is not just like, ‘here’s some food I hope you like it,’” Kettavong said. “It’s like, ‘this is the food that has fed my soul, that connects me to my heritage.’” 

Good & Golden was started in 2019 by Kettavong and her husband, university alumnus and co-owner Blake Atwood. The pair saw a number of Thai restaurants open across the local area. They felt the community would be open to trying Lao cuisine, which Kettavong said is often disguised as Thai food.

“I think the main ‘why’ for our business is sharing my food with people in Denton and people who haven’t ever heard of it before,” Kettavong said. “It’s really about educating folks and sharing this cuisine that I really love.” 

To help start the business and get it founded as an LLC, Kettavong and Atwood launched a Kickstarter for Good & Golden on Kettavong’s golden birthday last fall. The goal was originally set at $2,900 and was fully funded within two weeks. Before the Kickstarter closed, it became nearly 200 percent funded. 

Atwood said the initial support from his community further demonstrated why the couple started their food business.

“We’re excited to bring something new to Denton and I think Denton is excited for it, too,” Atwood said.

Aside from offering online orders, Good & Golden also appears at local markets, often with Kettavong’s family. 

“It’s been overwhelming in terms of how we feel so welcomed by Denton,” Kettavong said. “It’s a passion project as much as it is a business […] so it just fills my heart.”

The couple often hosts interactive dinner parties where they teach attendees how to make and serve a variety of traditional Lao dishes. Their next sold-out dinner experience will be held at True Leaf Studio on July 30.

Kettavong and Atwood said learning from and collaborating with other local business owners, like those at True Leaf, has furthered their own drive. Atwood said receiving such support from Denton’s business community has made them feel more welcome and accepted as Good & Golden develops.

“It’s really been cooperation over competition,” Atwood said. “It’s been great to not only have just the general public be helpful but small business owners as well.”

Andrew O’Brien, university alumnus and O’Brien Brothers Baking owner, is one of several local business owners Kettavong and Atwood said they consider a mentor and friend. O’Brien said the couple truly walk the talk in what they offer through Good & Golden. From beautiful pictures on Instagram to delicious tasting food, he said seeing their growth and success prove how special the business is.

“There’s so many delicious things out there for us to enjoy, and it takes somebody like Lasamee and Blake to take the leap to put something that’s really personal out there,” O’Brien said. “I hope for it to happen more because it’s ultimately what makes Denton the kind of beautiful place that it is.”

Kettavong said the encouragement from both business owners and the brand’s own customers demonstrates Denton’s own strengths as a community and business backing.

“This experience has just solidified how much people in Denton will come together to support a new budding business and really just like back you and be behind you,” Kettavong said. “Just to be validated by people that we admire and respect has definitely helped keep us moving forward.”

After seeing the community’s support, both online and in-person, Kettavong said she cries after nearly every big event. She said seeing others take interest in her food is something very personal for her. Though far from the motherland, Kettavong said she hopes others continue to make authentic, Lao connections through Good & Golden.

“We just want people to really get the most out of us,” Kettavong said. “Not only food-wise, but we also just want people to know about Laos.”

Above all else, Kettavong said she wishes for Good & Golden and its community to grow together. By expanding others’ palettes to new cuisine, she said others can see all the vibrancy and culture Laos has to offer.

“Having people come to our table, even if they don’t know what Lao food is, is incredibly moving,” Kettavong said. “I’m on the right path right now. That’s how it feels for me.”

Featured Image: Lasamee Kettavong and Blake Atwood pose with cooking utensils on July 8, 2022. Photo by Anthony Rubio

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Samantha Thornfelt

Samantha Thornfelt

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