OUR FOUNDERS

The KellyDeli Foundation was founded by food entrepreneurs - and husband and wife - Jerome Castaing and Kelly Choi.  Having built the successful food company, KellyDeli, they wanted to use their skills and resources to give something back.

For Kelly, tackling hunger and malnutrition is personal. She grew up in rural South Korea, experiencing the challenges of food poverty first-hand.  Below we tell her story.

 
 

Kelly's Story

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Childhood

"I am the fifth of six siblings, and grew up in post-war Korea. The country had been completely destroyed and my village was in the poorest part of the an already poor country. Child mortality rates were high and it was a common practice for people to register their babies after they had survived the first few years.

Unfortunately, my family were not able to escape these horrors. I remember seeing my mum’s tearful eyes when she told me that I had lost one and then another older sibling through hunger and malnutrition. A brother and sister that I would never meet again.

 

GOING TO SCHOOL?

By the time I was ten, my family were able to put a roof over our head, food in our bellies but not much more. Unfortunately, for a girl like me, this meant that high school was a luxury my parents could not afford.

I remember being told my father that I could not go to school but my brother could. This is when I felt ‘injustice’ for the first time.  I tried and tried to convince them but their minds would not be changed.

 

Matters in my own hands

Denied by my parents, I decided to take my future into my own hands. I searched and found a vocational course in Seoul where I would work in a factory during the day, and would go to high-school at night.

So, at the age of 14, I left my family behind and went to the bright lights of the capital city, alone.

 
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ThE FACTORY

Coming to the factory in Seoul, I realised actually how lucky my childhood had been. I saw other girls, as young as ten, working in the factory and sending everything they earned back to support their families

Working in the factory was dangerous and very tiring. I lost friends through dangerous accidents whilst working there and was always hungry. But, my sewing machine and the long-hours became my new normal and helped me achieve my dream of getting a high-school education.

 

Going Overseas

From my childhood and years spent in the clothing factory, I knew the world was imbalanced and unfair. I promised myself that I would work to help people lead better and fairer lives.

First, I needed to get out of Korea and make some money to stand on my own two feet. I decided to go to Japan: the Asian capital of fashion. I was a skilled tailor, learnt Japanese quickly and got a job with my knowledge of the clothes we made in the factory in Seoul. 

 

Finding Love

The bright lights of Tokyo led me to Paris, the fashion capital of Europe! And it was here, I met the love of my life, Jerome.

It feels like yesterday when I told him about my dream to be a successful food entrepreneur, so that I could give back and help the less fortunate. I saw his eyes light up as he had the same passion. It was incredible we found each other!

 
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The Future

Jerome and I built the company of our dreams, KellyDeli. From our kitchen table, we have been able to build a company that now offers work to thousands of people and brings nutritious food to people all over Europe.

Better than that, the profits from our business are now able to help people in need. Perhaps, another young girl, from a war-torn country who wants to achieve her dreams.