Polo and his Mother
Polo Trung’s love for food began in his home country of Cambodia where he grew up with a mother and grandmother who passed on their love of Cambodian Cuisine to him. Growing up in Cambodia (as well as many countries), it was custom for the older children to help around the house with cooking, cleaning and tending to the younger children. His mother, the second oldest child in a large family, was preparing the family meals by the age of 8 years old while her mother prepared meals in the restaurants she owned.
Having such talented Chefs in the family meant Polo grew up around delicious food and was taught to prepare meals for his own family as one of the oldest children from a young age. His parents moved the family to America when he was a young child so while he has eaten authentic Cambodian food at home for a lifetime, he also grew up around American food. Growing up in America meant he followed a common American path of going off to college and spending his 20’s exploring his world. The one thing that never left him was his love for family, tradition and culture so starting a family of his own has always been a definite in the plan.
Polo celebrating his son’s first fish!
By his 30’s, Polo had met a beautiful woman who he made his wife and couldn’t wait to have children of his own. As his life settled down and turned more towards family with the birth of his son, he fell back to his upbringing as he began preparing meals for his new family. He found that the skills and passion passed down from his family came back quickly and naturally in the kitchen and became something he truly enjoyed. His daughter came along a few years later and he continued his role in the family as caretaker and chef while supporting his wife in her career as a flight attendant – and you’ve never met a man so dedicated to being an adorably amazing father.
As age and starting a family of our own does to all of us, Polo reflected on his life, his aging mother and the legacy that he was so grateful to have been passed down to him through the generations. The recipes, food and love passed down was something he didn’t want to fade so he began talking to his mother about recipes and traditional Cambodian food. Having been raised mostly here in the US, Polo has recreated his mother and grandmother’s recipes with his own twist and unique Americanized style. One that celebrates the flavors and techniques of his home country but appeals to the American love of comfort food.
While Polo and his wife had been playing with the idea of starting a food cart for almost a decade, his daughter starting Kindergarten gave him the freedom to take his passion to a new level with the creation of The Lemongrass Shack. In April of 2016, the truck debuted in the East Valley and has been taking off ever since. It didn’t matter that nobody at the Food Truck events knew what Cambodian Food is because Polo is always happy to sample anything on the menu…and one bite is really all it takes!
The first year in the Food Truck industry taught him so much about flavors, combining ingredients and accommodating dietary needs and he has enjoyed having the opportunity to call his mom to discuss recipes and new ways of preparing food. Perfecting each recipe is what he lives to do and anyone that knows him is used to being asked to sample a new dish…and it’s always delicious! He has recently branched out into serving not only gluten and dairy free options but also vegetarian and vegan! His street menu always has options for all dietary needs and he even has a full vegan menu when he visits vegan events such as Zen Nights in Mesa.
His personal favorite is the Lemongrass Sausages and you should definitely get a sample next time you see it on the menu. Best. Sausage. Ever. Other dishes such as Lemongrass Chicken, Yellow Coconut Curry Chicken, Vegan Coconut Curry and Cambodian Beef Stew are crowd pleasers as well.
If you are looking for a home cooked meal from Cambodia with an American twist, The Lemongrass Shack is your place. Careful though, you will start craving it! Polo is one of the friendliest people you will ever meet and is always inside the truck ready to chat about the menu with customers. Check the Facebook page for his schedule and stop by for a sample next time he’s close to you!