The neighbors were befuddled – you’re making soup in the garage? Friends raised their eyebrows – do you realize your clothes smell like beef broth?

But Chapman University food science alumnus Tuan V. Nguyen (M.S. ’94) was undaunted. He was on a quest to create an instant soup base to help home and restaurant chefs who wanted to streamline the preparation of pho, the popular Vietnamese noodle dish that relies on a flavorful broth for its base.

Fifteen years later, no one’s raising eyebrows. Today, Nguyen is founder and owner of Quốc Việt Foods, a manufacturer and distributor of soup bases located on North Glassell Street in the City of Orange. He also founded Cafvina Coffee and Tea, a subsidiary company supplying organic coffee, tea and smoothie bases.

For his entrepreneurial skills and contributions to the local economy, the Orange Chamber of Commerce recently awarded his company the 2017 Small Business of the Year Award. The honor joins a host of others in his conference room, adorned with proclamations from cities, churches and even the California State Assembly commending the business for its charitable contributions to community programs.

He’s still stirring up new ideas for both commercial and home kitchens, too.

“Every year or two we have more products. And we’re still not done yet,” he says. “We are the American soup pot.”