Rathana Lim Soenneker was born and raised in the countryside of Oregon with 8 siblings; 3 bio and 6 adopted children who were orphans in a refugee camp during the Khmer Rouge war in Cambodia. Her mom opened the first Cambodian restaurant in Oregon, where she spent her youth helping cook and providing table service since she was 7. She is Cambodian-Chinese and speaks Khmer (Cambodian). After high school, she went to college in Boston, MA, majoring in English and Asian American Studies. After graduation, she worked with Asian community organizations with at-risk youth and taught preschool until she moved back to Oregon in 2005.
Once home again, she spent 10 years doing IVF to create her family. She has 3 children ages 14, 9, and 4. After she gave birth to her firstborn, she battled two types of cancer. After her second born, she had brain surgery for a brain tumor. After the medical issues slowed down, she went back to her passion and started Rathana’s Catering. During the pandemic, she used her freezers of food for canceled events to feed frontline workers for free, dropping off free food at clinics, grocery stores, hospitals, covid testing sites, and other places for those who kept the world running during the pandemic. She estimates she fed over 3,500 in those two years and continues to do Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for needy families in the community.