Where it all began, on the sand & sea of Son Rai Island in the western southern region of Vietnam. Our great grandfather, Pham Van Khon (1921-2004), known by everyone locally as Muoi Khon started the family trade.
In 1939, Muoi Khon went to work as a hired hand for a local family. Though he was by himself and penniless, he was well-liked and respected for his diligence and integrity. Despite his lack of social status, Muoi Khon soon caught the eye of the young daughter of his employer. They fell in love and got married.
Determined to provide a life for his young wife, he started working for various fishermen, following them out to the deep blue sea months at a time. Day after day spent out at sea, inhaling the saltiness of the air and seeing the abundant life in the vast ocean, Muoi Khon discovered his passion. Muoi Khon dreamed of a way to gather these natural resources and share the splendor of the sea, just as he experienced it.
Though still practically empty-handed and without any prior fish sauce making experience, Muoi Khon was determined to turn his dream into reality. With the help of his eldest son, Pham Van Ngoan (who still to this very day is out at sea harvesting wild caught anchovies for the family), he decided to cut down the jackfruit tree in front of their house to make the first barrel of fish sauce in 1951. No one, not even Muoi Khon, could have anticipated that this first barrel would become the catalyst for a completely new chapter in his life.
The fish sauce was well received by the local people, so Muoi Khon decided to invest all the money he had into a piece of land on the deserted side of Son Rai island. It was there, on his property, that Muoi Khon started his fish sauce facility and eventually built it into a sustainable livelihood. Day and night, he poured all his energy and resources into his work. Expanding by two folds, three folds, his small venture soon became the main industry on the island. This once almost deserted island became a small, but flourishing community. From humble beginnings, Muoi Khon was now the main employer of the area. As production increased, Muoi Khon started buying more and more land on the island to keep up with the ever-expanding enterprise. Eventually, he ended up owning more than half of the island, building homes and providing work for many people. The local people soon began referring to him as Chua Dao (Lord of the Island) heralding him for his tenacity, his work ethic, and his vision.
Our great grandfather is no longer with us, but his story and legacy continues to live on through Son Fish Sauce.