Niagara ( Niagara This week): Sophie Pham started Banh Theory as a way to share her favourite Vietamese foods with the Niagara region.
This is the first Farmers’ Market Fare, a series of features on Niagara’s Farmers Markets.
Sophie Pham started Banh Theory as a way to introduce people in the Niagara region to the classic Vietnamese foods she grew up loving.
“When people think about Vietnamese cuisine, they think of pho and all the different soups. I wanted to introduce another part of Vietnamese cuisine that is not so familiar here in the region,” explained Pham.
While she was deciding what Vietnamese foods to share with the world, Pham says she wanted to go with something she was often homesick for — bánh mi sandwiches.
She opened her stall, Banh Theory, at the Welland Farmers Market in the beginning of October, and has been selling the sandwiches and other foods like spring rolls ever since.
“Banh, from Banh Theory, if you translate it would mean bread in Vietnamese. So when you say bánh mi, it’s basically a bread with different fillings inside,” explained Phan.
The stall offers her favourite sandwich — a classic cold cut bánh mi featuring cold cuts, mayo, pâté and pickled vegetables on a toasted bun.
Pham describes the cold cut bánh mi as a “safe transition” from a regular kind of sandwich, and says that so far she has not had anyone dislike the bánh mi once they’ve tried it.
“I was born and raised in Vietnam and moved here about six years ago to pursue my dream of a professional career in the kitchen,” said Pham.
This dream took her to Niagara College, where after several classes and the support of community members, she was able to put together a plan to open her own business.
Opening up Banh Theory has been a family experience: Pham’s husband, son and mother-in-law all help her to run the stands at both the Welland and St. Catharines farmers markets.
“It’s really nice because our son is really young and it’s a nice experience for him to learn about (Vietnamese culture),” said Pham.
Banh Theory’s next endeavour includes using a food trailer they recently purchased to host pop-up events across Welland and St. Catharines.
The long-term goal is to open up a storefront location, and staff it with international students who are missing home just like Pham was when she arrived in Canada.
“I would love to hire international students, especially Vietnamese students, who have just come to Canada so they can have a job and the support they need when they first move to Canada with a brand-new life,” she added.