Anyone who knows me knows that I like my food on the spicier side. When I heard of Moon Peppers, I was very curious and excited to sample them. They have a booth at my favorite farmer’s market, The Backyard Market, so I knew right where to find them. To be transparent, this Culinary Queen is more of a Culinary Couple. Diem and her husband Khai created the brand and have both worked hard to make their pickled peppers unique, fresh, and unlike anything on the market. Moon Peppers currently offer 4 heat levels to choose from: Caribe (mild), Jalapeño (medium), Serrano (spicy), and Habanero (very spicy). I was lucky enough to get samples of all four (perks of being a food blogger!). To get a true idea of the taste and heat, I first ate them straight from the jar, cleansing my palate between each pepper. First of all, the thing that instantly gives Moon Peppers an edge is the incredible crunch! Many of the pickled peppers on the market are sad and soggy. Moon Peppers are just as crunchy as the day they were packed. Second, the peppers retain their bright vivid colors. These are perfect for a colorful garnish as well as a kick. The third thing I noticed was the slightly sweet tang of the brine. The “twang” really brings out the flavor of the pepper and provides and nice balance to the heat. And by heat, these peppers bring it! If you asked me to pick a favorite, I am not sure I could. Each pepper offers a distinctly different flavor profile.
As a regular customer of The Backyard Market, I have visited with several vendors about both Moon Peppers and their owners, Diem and Khai. The feedback is amazing. Not only does everyone love Moon Peppers, but they love and respect Diem and Khai too. I think that the most magical thing about The Backyard Market is how all the vendors are like family. They really do promote each other’s products, skills and services. When I met Diem and Khai, I immediately understood why they are such valued members of their community. Their excitement for their product is palpable and they are both so warm and approachable. They also have a great story that is sure to inspire anyone thinking of starting over and following their passion. Read on to learn more about them.
Tell us about your background.
My name is Diem and my husband’s name is Khai. We have a 5-year-old son, Luke. We were originally from Sugarland, Texas and moved to Colorado in March of 2021.
We found that our hearts were always in the Springs. During our vacations, we always find ourselves returning to Colorado Springs. This is because of the weather, hiking trails, parks, small mountain towns, the people, and the strong community support. We love it here in the Springs and knew this was where we wanted to raise our son.
We are huge foodies! We love trying different foods. In my spare time, I enjoy being in the kitchen and baking with my son.
What inspired you to create Moon Peppers?
One night while we were having dinner, we felt our dishes were lacking a bit of a kick. Instantly we thought about our grandmother’s pickled condiments and how wonderful they would pair with our dinner. We remembered they would pickle mustard greens, carrots, cauliflower, garlic and how wonderful they tasted, but we never recall them pickling anything spicy. So we thought how amazing it would be for us to use their traditional brine and add a spicy twist.
In 2018, we began pickling peppers, but my grandmother taught me how to pickle condiments at a young age. We began experimenting with the brine and found a nice balance of flavor and spice that we both enjoy. So we started sharing them with our family and friends to get their opinions and it was an instant hit among spicy lovers. We were so humbled by some of their responses and amazed with the amount of dishes these pickled peppers paired with; noodles, rice, eggs, pasta, sandwiches, pizza, tacos, nachos, and sushi! With many great responses, we also heard from a few that they really liked the taste but some wanted a little more spice while others wanted less spice. Then we started experimenting with other types of peppers and found a spice level for everyone.
In March of 2020, we began our journey to share Moon Peppers with the world. But at this time, Khai worked for Samsung, I worked in the banking industry for 18 years and our son, Luke, had just turned 3 yo. And we wanted to spend more time with him. We both often talked about leaving our corporate jobs one day and starting a business together in the hope of having more time to spend with our son.
In February 2022, we decided to take a leap of faith. Khai left his position at Samsung and I transferred my job to Colorado. We first moved to Broomfield and Khai was working on Moon Peppers Research & Development and watching our son while I was still working at the bank. I ended up leaving my job in March of 2022 and we moved to the Springs in mid-April of 2022.
We started selling our pickled peppers at farmers’ markets in June of 2022. In terms of how people would respond to our products, we weren’t sure what to expect. We took a chance and were humbled and overwhelmed by the responses. Along the journey we have met amazing people whom we now call our market family, wishing nothing but the best for us and some even became wonderful mentors.
We are so grateful to our grandmothers for sharing their wonderful pickling with us, and everyone who has helped us along the way, and we are always looking forward to spicing-up everyone’s dishes
What makes your business unique?
We carefully select the finest quality peppers, de-seed and de-vein the Caribe and Jalapeno peppers, and hand-slice the Serrano and Habanero peppers. We then go through a process of shaking the peppers to remove most of the seeds and then give it multiple filtered water baths prior to pickling the peppers. This is what gives our peppers the unique spice levels and unique taste almost anyone can enjoy. We carry different varies of peppers that we could not find in stores. Such as the pickled Caribes, pickled Serranos, and pickled slices of Habaneros.
Do you focus specifically on peppers, or do you make other goods?
Currently we are focusing solely on peppers, but in the future we will introduce other pickled products such as cauliflower.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your business?
The most rewarding aspect is being able to share our love of making pickled peppers with our community. Seeing the reaction and enjoyment of everyone who tried our pickled peppers. We were astonished by the reactions.
Besides your website, how can we purchase your peppers?
We can be found at a lot of local farmers’ markets. You can find us on Instagram and Facebook for upcoming locations and events.
We will also be at the following events next month:
1. Black Forest Holiday Market on December 10th
2. Spring Vegan Market on December 11th
3. The Sourdough Boulangerie on December 17th
What are your future plans for Moon Peppers?
We are planning on putting it in local stores, restaurants, and food trucks.
What advice would you give a woman thinking of starting a culinary business?
Don’t feel discouraged and try. Once you try something new, you’ll realize you can do anything once you put your mind and heart into it. Food is a great way to bring people together. Share the love you have for food; you’ll be surprised at what you can create. And, never, ever give up.
What is your favorite way to enjoy your peppers?
My favorite way to enjoy the peppers is to dice them up and sprinkle them on food like a party full of confetti! Pickled Caribe slices are delicious inside a chicken croissant with slices of tomatoes, and lettuce.
Khai’s favorite way of eating the peppers is to toss them in with his noodles. Our peppers can be enjoyed many ways. It can be enjoyed with noodles, rice, eggs, pasta, sushi, steak, hamburgers, hotdogs, sandwiches, salads, pizza, tacos, BBQ, and nachos. But we want people to just have fun with peppers and explore creative ways of eating.
Please share any relevant tidbits or a fun story that our readers might like
When we first introduced our peppers at the Farmers’ Market, a customer wanted to try all the peppers. Nothing was spicy enough for him. It was said that he could handle anything spicy without a problem. When we gave him a slice of habanero, he paused for a bit, displayed a smile and said, “wow these peppers are so tas.., oh..my…goodness.” his eyes opened super-wide and immediately started to look for something to drink and ran to find a lemonade stand, while his wife, who had already tried one, claimed it wasn’t that spicy. They have been coming back and we would laugh at that moment, as he would buy just the Jalapenos and leave the Habaneros alone.
As you can see, the Vuu’s story is both encouraging and inspiring. To chase your dreams, you have to take risks. If you put your heart and effort into it, it will pay off. This seems to be a common theme amongst the Queen’s I have interviewed over the past year. And they are all killing it with their culinary businesses. As Diem stated above, food brings people together. It is a universal language that bridges cultures, beliefs, and generations. If it weren’t for Moon Peppers, I wouldn’t have had the honor of meeting Diem and Khai. I sincerely look forward to watching their business grow and evolve. As for you, foodie reader, you should spice up your holidays and New Year by acquiring some Moon Peppers of your own! In fact, here is a recipe to enjoy with your purchase!