Nearly every independent donut shop in every Southern California mini-mall hides a story — and many of them start with an unlikely impresario, a Cambodian refugee named Ted Ngoy. In the 1980s and ’90s, when Dunkin’ Donuts tried to establish itself on the West Coast, his frosted, deep-fried empire sent the company packing. Then, he lost it all.
Ngoy’s epic rags-to-riches-to-rags story has been chronicled before (in the Los Angeles Times, the Phnom Penh Post and California Sunday, to name a few outlets), but Alice Gu is the first to put it on film.
Gu’s documentary, The Donut King, chronicles Ngoy’s thrill-of-victory/agony-of-defeat rollercoaster ride through the American Dream — immigration, capitalism, history, hubris, romance, addiction, family and food.