A Salmon Arm couple is sharing the flavour of China through their line of cooking sauces.
Charles Ouyang founded Will’s Food Inc. and runs the company with his wife of 33 years, Ann Liu. They met at their workplace in China after Liu graduated from university, then the two immigrated to Canada in 2005.
Before immigrating, Ouyang was an entrepreneur and CEO of a large company in China, managing manufacturing factories with thousands of employees. He also travelled across China, engaging with chefs while exploring local cuisine.
“One notable venture in his culinary journey was the establishment of the Wrap King Chain Catering Company,” Liu said. “This venture marked the inception of the first burrito fast food enterprise in China, showcasing Charles’ entrepreneurial spirit and culinary expertise.”
During COVID-19, Ouyang began planning for a new company in Canada, and Will’s Food Inc., named after their son, was officially registered in B.C. in 2020.
With a desire to spend more time with his family, especially his mother who resides with his sister’s family in Salmon Arm, Ouyang returned to Canada in 2021 after selling his Chinese company.
In September of 2021, Ouyang and Liu moved from Vancouver to Salmon Arm. In searching for a suitable production site, they came across the Zest Commercial Food Hub, a shared processing space where local food businesses can produce products and benefit from communities. However, they were only able to secure a spot on the waiting list.
Around the same time, Ouyang and Liu had found a desirable home in Salmon Arm, and perhaps this is what led to the good news that followed — an unexpected surprise from Zest.
“They informed us that a customer who had previously committed to renting their space had withdrawn, making it available for us,” Liu recalled. “Astonishingly, on the very same day, we discovered that the keys to our new house were handed over to us.”
This was the beginning of Will’s Food Inc.
“We finished the first batch of five stir-frying sauces, participated in the first Zestmas Christmas Market and were warmly welcomed by local citizens,” Liu said. “After that, we tried the products among our friends in Vancouver and got a lot of good comments and suggestions.”
“Our products [were] further recognized and accepted by locals, [and] we accumulated a lot of market experience and launched many new products,’ Liu said. “We started selling in the local chain store Askew’s Foods and in four nearby independent grocery stores.”
Complex cooking techniques in Chinese cuisines often pose a challenge for home cooks who strive to recreate authentic flavours. Ouyang recognized this and came up with a solution by drawing upon his years of entrepreneurial experience and culinary explorations.
“To address this need, Charles ingeniously amalgamated Western sauce manufacturing technology with the essence of Chinese flavour profiles. The result was a range of ‘one shot cooking’ sauces that enable anyone, regardless of their cooking skills, to effortlessly prepare authentic Chinese meals at home,” explained Liu.
Ouyang and Liu’s trademarked “Flavor of China” all-in-one cooking sauces cater to an emerging market and allow individuals to savour the flavours of Chinese cuisine from their own homes. All sauces are made in Canada, and flavours include, fried noodles (Chow Mein), stir-fry, BBQ and pasta.
Ouyang and Liu recently participated in the From the Ground Up Trade Show and Conference last month in Vancouver.
“We are thrilled with the outcome of the trade show as it provided us with valuable opportunities to connect with buyers, expand our network and gain insightful knowledge,” Liu exclaimed.
Liu said they plan on using the highs of the trade show to help grow their business even more.
The couple thank the entire Salmon Arm community for their unwavering support.
“Their love, encouragement, assistance, and prayers have been instrumental in helping us overcome challenges and persevere in this exploration process,” Liu said. “We are truly blessed to have such a strong support network that has propelled us forward.”
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