TORONTO — In Grade 10, Lits Kong won a financial grant that led to her family opening a Laotian restaurant. She didn’t know it at the time, but that strong tie between business, food and family would become central in her life decades later.

For a high school project, she created an acclaimed business plan, which led to a government grant. The earnings helped her parents buy a building in Winnipeg, where they were living at the time, and eventually, open a restaurant in the space named Lao Thai.

For Kong, ample responsibility started at a young age. At six-years-old, she started waking up early to make her parents sticky rice, eggs and stir fried vegetables before rushing off to school and back home in time to have dinner on the table for her family at 5 p.m.

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