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Donut People

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    ♪ Cambodian music ♪
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    [DONUT PEOPLE]
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    [Samoeurn Phan]
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    [Affectionately known as
    Pou Sam (Uncle Sam)]
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    [Sam has opened over 20 donut shops
    for Cambodian families across Houston.]
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    (Uncle Sam) Well, when I came here in 1994
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    to eat one donut you didn't realize
    how much work goes into one donut
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    until you actually go into
    doing the donuts.
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    You know, it takes quite a bit
    just to make one donut.
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    I start off by finding a location.
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    If I find a location,
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    I get a family that needs a donut shop
    to go to look at the location,
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    and if they like it,
    we negotiate the price,
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    and if the price is right,
    I build it for them and turn them the key.
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    You know, most of them
    already know how to make donuts.
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    They work for a family member,
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    you know, they've already worked
    for like two, three or five years
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    to save up the money
    to start up the business.
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    [Chandara Meas
    Owner of Snowflake Donuts, Galveston]
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    [Cambodian Immigrant]
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    (Chandara Meas) That's what I'm saying,
    when I came to the States,
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    I don't have no relatives in here,
    I don't speak that much English,
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    I gotta start to learn English
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    and start to work to support myself...
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    and I don't have chance
    to go back to college,
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    so I end up at a donut shop.
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    Most Cambodians who take us,
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    they own a donut shop,
    they run a donut business...
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    yeah, you know, it's hard to do it,
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    not many people want to do that job
    as I'm doing right now.
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    [Countless Cambodians were tortured]
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    [and more than a million were killed]
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    [under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime.]
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    [More than a million Cambodians fled
    and became refugees.]
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    From 1975 to 1979,
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    there's Khmer Rouge ran by Pol Pot.
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    At that time I was 10 years old...
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    I still remember the torture,
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    lot of people died
    by starving and sickness...
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    most of [the time]
    they were killing people.
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    That was a hard time
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    and that was the worst thing
    that happened in the world.
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    Most Cambodians escaped from the war
    in 1981after the Khmer Rouge regime,
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    and when they started to come here,
    people don't speak that much English,
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    so that's why they started
    working at donut shops
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    because most of them what they do
    are family business --
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    This is my wife's nephew.
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    He just came to the USA last year.
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    He came in a special case
    that they call "Lottery Visa".
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    He's a lucky one
    that won a lottery green card.
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    The business we just opened--
    it is kind of slow, it's brand new.
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    Hopefully, we can stay for a long time
    until we get some profit...
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    to take care of my family, my kids...
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    go to school, go to college...
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    I have a beautiful kid.
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    It's like, if you work for a company,
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    you have a different schedule
    than the donut people.
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    So the donut people,
    we wake up at 2:00 or 3:00 am,
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    and we'll be done by 12:00 or 1:00 pm,
    and take a couple-of-hours-nap,
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    and, you know, get together
    and then, go to sleep, and wake up,
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    and go to make some more donuts!
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    (man singing Karaoke in Cambodian)
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    [Tao Ngo Vietnamese Restaurant
    North Houston]
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    [Cambodian Karaoke Party]
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    (end of singing)
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    Yeah, we like to get together
    because, you know,
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    we work seven days a week.
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    Some of us wake up at 1:00 am,
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    some of us wake up at 2:00 am,
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    some of us at 3:00 am,
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    and we work seven days a week,
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    you know, this is the only fun we have.
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    (Cambodian music)
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    I would say 95% of the donut shops
    in Texas, not just in Houston,
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    in Texas is Cambodian people owned.
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    One one-big -family, that's all.
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    (Cambodian music)
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    [Second Generation Donut Shop Owner]
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    [Roth's parents, sisters, aunts,]
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    [and uncles all own donut shops.]
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    My parents bought the store in 1994.
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    They would always bring us on weekends
    because we have school on weekdays.
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    I really dread waking up on the weekend
    just to come make donut, you know.
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    They told me one day
    I'm going to own my business
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    and I kind of say
    I didn't want to do this.
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    This is not my first choice
    of what I really wanted to do.
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    For me, going to school
    what I really wanted to do,
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    I wanted to experience that life.
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    One day I woke up and I realized
    I didn't want to work for somebody else.
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    I called my mom and I told her
    I wanted to come back home
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    and try this again,
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    and she was very excited,
    very happy for me
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    that I can kind of woke up
    and I wanted to do this.
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    I get up at 4:00 am,
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    and my sisters get up
    at around 2 - 2:30 am,
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    they're closer to the plant
    so they wake up earlier,
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    to go to the plant and--
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    I'm fortunately to have
    a little bit of both,
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    so I can stay in bed a little longer
    and they can--
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    So when I first got to Houston
    I didn't know--
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    I thought my family was the only one
    that was doing donuts
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    but I come to find out that
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    a lot of Cambodian people
    have done this way before we have...
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    You know, it's like a community
    of helping out each other, you know,
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    like, people were telling each other
    what can make you successful
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    and I don't think anybody
    was envious of each other,
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    just wanted to see our culture succeed,
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    and the donut business
    is where it started
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    for a lot of these Cambodian cultures.
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    It's definitely a dream
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    that a lot of people want
    when they are in Cambodia,
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    to have their own place, back in Cambodia.
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    It's a fast-pace life.
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    Every day is a struggle to find
    money and food for the family.
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    It made me realized
    what I have out here in America.
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    As hard as I work down here,
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    I think that they work harder over there
    to make a small living.
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    My first place when I came,
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    are the one along with Donald's Donut
    on el Dorado in Webster.
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    Then I preach it out to
    Yankee Doodle Donuts.
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    And that's when I met David
    on the El Dorado store.
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    I was teaching him since he was young.
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    I taught him probably
    about five years, I believe.
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    [Houston coffee entrepreneur.]
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    [Spent high school with Sam & Roth
    working in the Ouch family donut shop.]
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    (David Buehrer) My name is David Buehrer
    and this is Morningstar.
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    (Uncle Sam) Most of the time
    I don't ask for help, you know.
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    It surprises me it came up from David
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    just to ask me to get into
    a business partnership with him.
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    (David B.) This is the first I'd learned with--
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    when I was in high school
    was how to roll kolaches
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    and Sam's family
    they would let me roll a kolache
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    and they would immediately
    unroll the kolache,
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    and then they would roll it again
    to make sure it was perfect.
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    And for like the first three
    or four months of me working there
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    they never served any of my kolaches.
    (chuckles)
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    One day they just saw one of them
    and decided it was okay,
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    and from then on,
    they let me roll kolaches for them.
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    But it took like months
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    before they even serve
    one of the kolaches that I rolled.
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    It shows the attention to details
    on level of quality
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    and maybe, I just needed to learn more,
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    but it took months to roll
    the kolaches with them.
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    (David B.) One of the things
    we wanted to do with Morningtar
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    is bring in the technique that we learned
    from the Cambodian donut shops
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    and apply it to the foodie nature
    that specialty copy exists in.
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    We have a lot of bartenders, and chefs,
    and sommelier friends,
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    and a lot of our donuts
    are inspired by them.
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    Yeah, at one point in high school
    I was driving at two in the morning
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    to go and learn how to make donuts
    in Magnolia, Texas, with Sam.
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    And then, an hour back,
    and then go to school by 7:30, so...
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    but you do what you gotta do to learn.
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    (Sam P.) In the nineties, you know,
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    that's when the donuts started here
    in Houston by the Cambodian community
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    to now is a long time to me...
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    You feel like it needs change,
    it needs some time to change.
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    (Sam P.) And then,
    all of a sudden one day,
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    he called me pou,
    which is Cambodian for uncle,
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    and said, "Would you like to do
    a donut shop and a coffee together?",
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    I said, "Sure", but, you know,
    I never expected it.
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    In the future, you know,
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    the new generations
    they know that I own the store
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    and they want to do something like this.
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    I don't want to do
    the same thing every day, you know.
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    Especially, because I've been doing it
    for almost 20 years.
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    You're doing the same thing every day,
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    and to me, I wouldn't want to go back
    and do the same shop
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    like a mom-and-pop shop.
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    This is the shop that I want to do
    as the next one...
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    And the next one, and the next one...
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    People have no idea
    what goes into a single donut here.
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    English subtitles by
    Jenny Lam-Chowdhury
Title:
Donut People
Description:

"This short food film tells the story of Cambodian immigrants in Texas, where Cambodians own an estimated 95% of the donut shops. Some of the film's subjects escaped torture and persecution in Cambodia at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. Interviews with immigrants and their children offer insights into the culture. The film wraps up with a look at the exciting new style of Cambodian donut shop/coffee house with gourmet Asian donuts and hip baristas."

DISCLAIMER: I don't own this video and I'm not monetizing it. This is a copy only used with the purpose of adding subtitles and making it accessible to more people around the world.

"Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use."

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Video Language:
English
Team:
Eating With My Five Senses
Project:
Food Film Festival - New York 2019
Duration:
11:46
Jenny Lam-Chowdhury edited English subtitles for Donut People
Jenny Lam-Chowdhury edited English subtitles for Donut People
Jenny Lam-Chowdhury edited English subtitles for Donut People
Jenny Lam-Chowdhury edited English subtitles for Donut People
Jenny Lam-Chowdhury edited English subtitles for Donut People
Jenny Lam-Chowdhury edited English subtitles for Donut People
Jenny Lam-Chowdhury edited English subtitles for Donut People
Jenny Lam-Chowdhury edited English subtitles for Donut People
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