May 2020 The SoCal Food & Beverage Professional

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Issue 5 Volume 20

US $3.95

Feed the Fight: TastePro’s Philanthropic Response to COVID-19

May 2020

Contents and Comments from Editorial Director Bob Barnes


It’s with great sadness that I share the news of the passing of Mike Fryer, Senior Editor/ Publisher/Founder of The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional/The SoCal Food & Beverage Professional. This will be sudden news to many of you, as after his cancer returned recently it progressed very rapidly and spread throughout his body; Mike left us on April 28. Anyone who had the pleasure to know Mike will surely remember him as an extremely kind and charming man with a witty sense of humor who was always very fun to be around. He was also a visionary, who accomplished a great deal, including the founding of this publication and The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional. Our LVFNBPro team will strive to continue to lend a voice to the professionals in the food & beverage industry, as Mike hoped we would. Mike’s passing happened just as we were closing this issue, so to do justice to his memory, the June issue of The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional will be devoted to honoring his legacy. If you have any memories of times with Mike or pics you would be willing to share for the issue, please send them to me at



Our cover feature, written by Bob Barnes, tells the story of how one newly-opened business, TastePro, after having to close one week after opening, shifted gears to provide help to frontline medical workers, local restaurants and a food bank. In addition to this being a wonderful, heartwarming story, it has added meaning for us, as our very own Restaurant Editor Ben Brown is the founder of TastePro and the charitable endeavor Feed the Fight. Find the full feature on page 12. Feed the Fight is not the only outreach program covered in this issue. In Dave Mulvihill’s What’s Brewing column we learn of ways you can support local breweries (page 6) and in Ben Brown’s Foodie Biz column (page 8) we are informed of the partnership of the non-profit LA Housing and DTLA’s Red Bird, providing meals to the homeless in this time of crisis to help the community they serve. During this time, restaurant owners, managers and staff are anxiously looking for ways to help their businesses survive. We are here to help, with an article by Restaurant Expert David Scott Peters about the need to lay out a cash flow plan to ride out the pandemic (page 10). In honor of Mike Fryer, I will continue to use his characteristic closing: CHEERS!

Page 4 Hot off the Grill!

Page 11 Product Review

Page 5 Human Resources Insights Human Resources Is Exactly that—a Resource!

Page 12 COVER FEATURE Feed the Fight TastePro’s Philanthropic Response to COVID-19

Page 17 Wine Talk with Alice Swift A Walk Down Memory Lane During COVID-19 Page 22 Events Ad Index

Page 6 What’s Brewing

Page 14 The Bottom Line How to Start a Restaurant, From an Expert in Design, Permitting, Licensing and Development

Page 8 Foodie Biz Page 10 The Restaurant Expert Create a Cash Flow Plan to Ride Out the COVID-19 Pandemic

Page 16 Chef Talk Truffles


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The Socal Food & Beverage Professional 7442 Grizzly Giant Street Las Vegas, NV 89139


In loving memory of our Sr. Editor, father and friend.

Mike Fryer Founder, 1949-2020

Bob Barnes

Editorial Director

Juanita Fryer


Ben Brown

Restaurant Editor

This photo depicts Mike Fryer, flanked by Editorial Director Bob Barnes and Creative Director Juanita Aiello, at the Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits Nevada launch of Brooklyn Brewing in 2013, demonstrating his playfulness and showing him enjoying life. Anyone who ever had the pleasure to spend time with him, came to appreciate his company and cheerful outlook. He will forever be in our hearts and we all owe him a huge debt of gratitude for having the foresight to create this magazine. One of LA’s hottest restaurants is now cooking up 1,300 meals a day for families in need. Restaurant Editor Ben Brown has the story in his Foodie Biz column on page 8.

Juanita Aiello

Creative Director

Alice Swift

Assistant Editor


Article Submissions/Suggestions

Calendar Submissions


Press Relase Submissions

General Information


The SoCal Food & Beverage Professional


Legal Editorial Advisor Andrew Matney

Journalist What’s Brewing David Mulvihill

Accounting Manager Michelle San Juan

Journalist Brett’s Vegas View Jackie Brett Journalist

Best of the Best Shelley Stepanek

Journalist Spirits Confidential Max Solano

Journalist Dishing It Sk Delph

Journalist Front & Back of the House Gael Hees

Photographer Audrey Dempsey

Journalist Chef Talk Allen Asch

Journalist Pat Evans

Journalist The Restaurant Expert David Scott Peters

Journalist Adam Rains

Journalist Sandy Korem

Journalists Twinkle Toast Erin Cooper & Christine Vanover

Journalist Lisa Matney

Journalist HR Insights Linda Bernstein

Journalist Made from Scratch John Rockwell

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By Linda Westcott-Bernstein

Human Resources Insights

Linda Westcott-Bernstein has provided sound human resources advice and guidance to Fortune 500 companies and others for over 25 years. Linda has recently re-published her self-help book entitled It All Comes Down to WE! This book offers guidelines for building a solid and enduring personal work ethic. You can find her book on Amazon or Google Books. Phone: 702-326-4040 Email:

Human Resources Is Exactly that—a Resource! Some of the finest human resources (HR) teams that I have worked on, for and/or directed, all had one thing in common: a person in charge that emphasized and exemplified the qualities of a leader. A consummate HR professional that embraced the essential purpose of HR—to serve our customers, our employees and those who are our partners in our success! To be successful in an HR position and role, you must start, first and foremost, by being a “people person.” I have also worked for a few HR “professionals” that came nowhere near to that definition or personality. I’m sure that you too have encountered “bad” bosses regardless of your career, field or line of work. I am talking about the following types of poor behaviors… Glory grabber-so insecure that they have to take all the credit for their team’s work and achievements, both publicly as well as covertly with their bosses in order to impress. Ego maniac-has such a huge ego that they can’t be bothered with the minutia and have the need to micro-manage because they are “the only one with a brain that can do things right” (or so they say…). Angry boss-(needed to retire years ago) this person is always in a bad mood, having a bad day or tired of working/having to do everyone’s job for them—whether actual or perceived. They keep harping on how they “are tired of the work, complaints, employees, problems and you bothering them!” So, now that we’ve looked at the dark side of HR management, what exactly does it take to be a people person and thereby a resource for your customers? Always first on my list is “enjoy the work that you do!” I want to ask those terrible HR people that I’ve worked for in the past, “Why do you do this work if you don’t enjoy it? It has to feel like torture for you!? Even worse, it creates this perception or environment that HR under your lead is uncaring, unhelpful and just plain unhappy! Is that what you want to accomplish?” On the opposite side is me. I am so fortunate! I love what I do! I can’t emphasize that enough. I’ve always known from somewhere in the back in my childhood and distant past, that I would be good in a job where I could help people to do better, thrive and enjoy their work and life

more. I wanted people to know and understand that managing people doesn’t have to be a drudge, but can be challenging and exhilarating when you engage your staff and see the “ah ha!” light go on for that person when they understand and then excel. How did that feeling and appreciation for “helping” come about you might ask? It came from my upbringing. I was taught and learned at a very young age about pride in my work, helping and carrying my share of the load. My parents and grandmother(s) helped me to understand the basics of gaining satisfaction from my work. It came from two very basic and foundational principles, as follows: 1) do a job well and take pride in that job’s completion, and 2) embrace how accomplishing that job or work adds value to the family, your pride and sense of accomplishment, and everyone’s welfare! Those concepts have stuck with me for my entire life. So, now, how do we take all of those components, and shape them into a vision of how and why HR must be a resource? First, by embracing the fact that the name of this field says it all—human resources—a resource is a place for help, tools, information and to gain insight on how to thrive.

Secondly, the role of HR for employees and the company is to orient, culturalize, indoctrinate, train and offer benefits to employees that have value, are a match with their needs and that support compatibility, success and longevity. And lastly, HR is there to listen, solve problems, correct performance problems and redirect the efforts of both employees and managers in the goal of attaining a good match, minimizing business interruption and reducing overall costs. Remember, from my lessons learned, if HR is uncaring and unapproachable, they have no value to your employees or your organization. They will serve no useful purpose and ultimately become obsolete and unproductive. I know in my heart, that even during times of challenge we must all take responsibility for those we serve and help in any and every way we can. HR is not a field for everyone, but it must be a resource for all!

HR Question of the month:

Please send your HR questions and concerns, or share your thoughts on your human resources challenges via email to the following address. Send input to Your comments, questions or concerns will help determine the direction for my next month’s column and earn you a copy of my book. Include your mailing address when sending your responses.

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By David Mulvihill


David Mulvihill strives to experience and write about the ever-evolving face of SoCal craft beer. He also covers Orange County for Celebrator Beer News and provides business and compliance support to SoCal breweries. Contact him at

Assisting with Survival

At the time of drafting this column, stay-athome guidelines were still in place. Many of you continue your support for restaurants, pubs, breweries and bars via their to-go sales options. Via shipping, delivery and onsite purchase to-go options, breweries that have been able to remain open continue trying to make it through sales of kegs, growlers, crowlers, six packs, four packs, merchandise and certificates, hopeful that an end to this craziness is near. Your continued support is overwhelmingly appreciated by these businesses. In addition to regulatory relief, postponements of excise tax reporting and relief have been received both on a state and federal level. With overall sales at only a fraction of what they were just a couple of months ago, coupled with the fact that social gatherings are not currently allowed, the groups that support our breweries on a local, state and national level are also feeling the crunch. Brewers guilds and associations are dependent on their member-brewers and fundraising events for the income necessary to keep them running. The current crisis has required cancelling and/or postponement of many festivals and events.


Support the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild

The Los Angeles County Brewers Guild supports over 90 L.A. County independent breweries. Having already cancelled the annual N’owt but Stout Festival at Yorkshire Square Brewery, the Guild announced in late April that the 12th Annual L.A. Beer Week and associated opening fest, set for late June, was being postponed. The LABG works to protect the craft beer industry through efforts to support its members and to promote the L.A. craft beer community through education and events. Relying heavily on revenue from its major events to survive, postponement of L.A. Beer Week and cancellation of several partner events is obviously delivering a major hit to the nonprofit. In an effort to survive during the crisis, LABG has launched pre-sales for “I Heart L.A. Beer” shirts and hoodies, and has re-launched a simplified version of the Guild’s “Enthusiast Memberships” ( On the Guild’s site you will also see the “Beer It Forward” campaign, a virtual tip jar where you can support the effort for as little as $1. To assist area breweries, the LABG has also enhanced its website with a tab listing the L.A. area breweries currently offering pick-up and delivery options, along with hours, services and how to order ( 6 The SoCal Food & Beverage Professional I May 2020

Support the Orange County Brewers Guild


In spite of having to postpone and cancel many of its own lifeblood events, San Clemente-based Brew Ha Ha Productions launched efforts in late March to raise funds, not for itself, but for the benefit of the Orange County Brewers Guild. First presented were “DRINK LOCALSTAYHOME #CORONAVIRUSSUCKS” t-shirts and hoodies. 100% of net profits from sale of these items will be donated to the Orange County Brewers Guild to provide relief to local craft breweries. Phase 2 followed on April 10th with an additional “DON’T LET LOCAL BRWERIES GO EXTINCT #DRINKLOCAL” hoodie. The OCBG is also supporting local member breweries in their business saving/ maintaining efforts. A “CURRENT BREWERY STATUSES” link has been added to the home page of website. It will bring you to a spreadsheet showing the current status of OC craft breweries, along with ordering links, hours of operation and additional details.


To assist the Central Coast public with supporting its member brewers, the Central Coast Brewers Guild has also provided a page on its website (www. It shows the breweries offering to-go and delivery options, and provides links to the brewery ordering pages. The CCBG’s Central Coast Craft Beer Festival originally scheduled for March 28th was postponed to June 20th. There were no new updates prior to press time.

Join the Efforts

COVID-19 has affected most of us, personally and financially. If you are able to, please continue to assist in efforts to support our local businesses and breweries via purchases of food, beer, gift cards and merchandise, or via the various Guild and brewery fundraisers noted above and in my last column. Any financial help brewers receive today will aid in their continuance after this mess is behind us.

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| Foodie Biz |

By Ben Brown Benjamin Brown, MBA is Restaurant Editor of The SoCal Food & Beverage Professional. A seasoned writer and consultant, Ben works with Fortune 500 companies and mom & pop shops alike in Marketing, Analytics, Consumer Insights, PR and Business Development. Contact Ben at or follow him @Foodie_Biz.

Photo Credit: LA Family Housing & Redbird

A Partnership for Humanity: LA Family Housing and DTLA’s Redbird The COVID-19 crisis has turned just about every aspect of daily life on its head, but at the same time, has shined the spotlight on selflessness, charity, and the ability for people to mobilize with unprecedented speed. Amidst this pandemic, an unlikely partnership has formed, one which exemplifies all three of the aforementioned attributes. LA Family Housing (LAFH) is a nonprofit dedicated to helping people out of homelessness. Redbird and its adjacent event space, Vibiana, represent upscale Modern American fare and lavish happenings, bringing more than 1,000 of LA’s finest under one roof in a single evening [remember those days?]. Now, Redbird is using its kitchen and staff to cook up more than 1,300 meals each day for LAFH’s clients. With event operations

suspended and a culinary infrastructure built for high volume, this fine dining establishment is seizing the opportunity to do some good in the world. “The second it became clear about how serious this [crisis] was, we immediately thought about how we could take care of our employees and contribute to the community,” said Amy Knoll Fraser, Co-Owner of Redbird and Vibiana. She runs the restaurant and event space with her husband and Executive Chef, Neal Fraser. Knoll Fraser was introduced to Stephanie Klasky-Gamer, President and CEO of LAFH, through foodie event host Billy Harris. “It was a Wednesday, and I was talking to one of my board members. We knew that with their kids being home and loss of employment, access to food was going to be challenging for

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our clients,” Klasky-Gamer said. LAFW refers to the individuals and families they serve as clients. “He said let me make a call. 90 minutes later, I was talking to Billy [Harris] and he put Amy on the line.” “By Friday night, we had 1,300 meals. It was amazing.” Logistics came together at breakneck speed. LAFH’s long-term food partners came through with ingredients fit for nutritious meals, alongside other food suppliers bringing inventory from restaurants that couldn’t make use of it. Redbird hit the ground running, preparing hundreds of meals at a time with whatever made its way into the kitchen. “We do 600 events a year. We’re set up for volume,” Knoll Fraser said. With her calm demeanor, you’d never guess she’d handled

such a massive undertaking in such a short amount of time. “To be able to pull this off for our culinary team is not as challenging as it sounds.” A 10-person kitchen crew churns out meals as efficiently as a NASCAR pit crew changes out a car, with a facilities manager responsible for packaging everything as it comes off the line. Meals are packaged in double portions where possible to save on plastic. Most of this work is completed by 11 a.m. Two trucks ship the food to LAFH’s main campus in North Hollywood. By 2 p.m., it’s loaded up in cars that drive out to clusters of clients sprawled across LA. The goal is to have every meal delivered to some 450 clients and their families by 4:30 p.m. And while the operation runs like clockwork, it’s perhaps an even bigger shift for LAFH as it is for Redbird. “We’ve never delivered food to [clients] before, and it’s the same families we’ve worked with for years,” Klasky-Gamer said. “This is something we want to keep up. They’re not getting access to healthy meals, even in the best of times.” The benefits are tallying up for LAFH. They’ve increased their engagement time between clients and their ‘housing navigators,’ or those responsible for helping individuals and families secure permanent housing. They also opened three new shelters in less than two weeks, with a forth coming as of the time of this writing. “We’ve never done anything like that in that time frame. Developing protocols and staffing structures is a very different operation than we’ve had in the past,” Klasky-Gamer said. “We’ve brought all these people inside that we’ve been looking to do for years. We had washing stations outside encampments within 3 days…we were never able to do that before.” For LAFH, the COVID-19 crisis has been a catalyst for swift movement. For Redbird, it’s another example of the team’s ability to handle just about anything the times throw at them, as well as a chance to give back to the community in a new and different way. “Homelessness is something we’ve been trying to figure out how to help with for a long time. We were in talks with the Mayor to create a chefs collective and a fundraiser,” Fraser Knoll said. “We want to figure out how to keep a program like this going. It’ll be challenging once we’re back at full speed, but having it in some capacity would be great.” For more information on how you can help or to donate, please visit

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The RESTAURANT EXPERT Create a Cash Flow Plan to Ride Out the COVID-19 Pandemic

As an industry, restaurants are very much a cash flow business. As long as sales are coming through the doors, you can pay your bills and make money. So, when sales were reduced for many operators by 40–60 percent or more overnight, many independent restaurants were immediately met with three key options: • Alter the business model. • Close until the pandemic is over. • Close for good. To determine the futures of their businesses, many restaurants are trying to decide if they should take advantage of one of the new loans available through the Small Business Administration. Would a loan keep people employed, or make it viable to keep the doors open? To make an informed and vetted decision, a restaurant owner MUST have a 12-week cash flow budget. Unlike an annual budget where you are looking to create a plan to be profitable, your 12-week budget is all about survival. Do you have enough cash to do that? To create your 12-week cash flow budget, here’s the process: • Look at a typical month. What are your sales? How are those sales broken up by sales categories? What are your current salaries and wages, including taxes, benefits and insurance? What are your operating expenses and what week are you scheduled to pay those bills?

By David Scott Peters David Scott Peters is a restaurant coach and speaker who teaches restaurant operators how to cut costs and increase profits with his trademark Restaurant Prosperity Formula. Known as the expert in the restaurant industry, he uses a no-BS style to teach and motivate restaurant owners to take control of their businesses and finally realize their full potential. Thousands of restaurants have used his formula to transform their businesses. To learn more about David Scott Peters and his formula, visit

• Using that information, create a 12-week cash flow template. Remember this has nothing to do with profits. • Edit your numbers based on your new reality. For example, if sales are down 50 percent, reduce your sales forecast in your budget by 50 percent. If you are only selling food now, food is now 100 percent of sales. Is your food cost too high? Do you need to create a new menu to lower it? Look at salaries. Are you now working on the line? Are your managers doing line employee jobs and need to be moved from salary to hourly workers, including possibly reducing their pay? Add in your beginning reconciled bank balance and you’re on your way to creating different scenarios to help you make the best decision for your restaurant. • Now look at where your cash deficits are. Look at what bills you can cut. Look at what bills you can defer. At the end of the 12-week period, look at your projected cash balance and new accounts payable. Now you have the numbers to help you decide what’s best for you and your restaurant until this pandemic blows over. There are other factors to consider when making your decision. Do you believe for the first time in our lives that the federal government is going to provide the hospitality industry a bailout? It changes every day, but so far, it seems only the largest companies are getting a bailout.

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What can you defer? • Is the state offering sales tax deferments without penalty? • In talking with your CPA, is the federal government going to waive penalties if you are slow to pay employment taxes? • If you’re not already behind on your rent, based on your lease agreement and consulting with your attorney, can you contact your landlord and let them know you won’t be paying the next one, two or three months of rent? Or ask them if they will add it to the end of your lease. • What about your broadline distributors? Don’t bury your head in the sand and just not pay them. They are getting crushed with thousands of restaurants that owe them money and who are not paying their bills. Can you call them and ask if you pay for half of each delivery for the next four weeks, would they keep delivering your food? Remember this is a deferment, not forgiveness of debt. • Every other expense is on the table. Look at every bill and service you pay. Do you need it? If not, drop it. What about those lifelines? If you take money through the Paycheck Protection Program or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, can you afford to pay loans back if they’re not forgiven? When you look at your 12-week cash flow projections, you will quickly see which decisions make the most sense for your restaurant business. Last but not least, every week, you’re going to look at what sales you actually brought in and what bills you paid and re-evaluate your plan. This is not a one-anddone decision.

Product Review By Bob Barnes

Brewferm Belgian Beer Kits I began homebrewing in the 1980s, back when the only way you could obtain good beer was to buy expensive imported or make it yourself. I daresay I became pretty good at it and even accomplished 1st best-of-show and 2nd best-of-show homebrew competition honors, along with dozens of first place category wins. I hadn’t brewed in 14 years, and one of the reasons was the 3+ hours it took to complete a batch (which would have been doubled if I brewed all-grain), to bottle and the extensive cleanups. So, when offered to try out the Brewferm Belgian Beer Kits, with directions to craft your brew in a fraction of the time, I was intrigued. Step-by-step directions with pictures include cleaning the fermenting vessel, heating the can of malt in hot water (to make it easier to pour), mixing with table sugar and cold water, adding the dried yeast and sealing the top, all of which took well less than an hour. Fermenting and bottling took place in the same plastic vessel, bottling occurred 10 days later and after another 10 days the brew was ready to be consumed. This brewing method was completely foreign to the way I had brewed previously, as I always boiled the malt for more than an hour (sometimes with unfortunate boilovers), added my own hops at intervals, cooled everything down with a wort chiller, never used cane sugar, used a secondary fermenter and separate bottling bucket and used liquid yeast instead of dried. Needless to say, I was pretty skeptical of how good the results would be and completely surprised and amazed at how good my batch came out. Some caveats and room for improvement include a few essential items and some key directions lacking in the starter kit I was sent. Included was a bottle filler (gadget for filling bottles) but no hose to attach it to the spigot; some starter kits do not contain a capper and caps, so if you don’t already have these and are not using swingtop bottles, be sure to choose the right kit for your needs; and the directions talk about the importance of cleaning, but give no info on how to clean and sanitize the bottles. I also recommend waiting two weeks after bottling before popping your first bottle, as mine were too lightly carbonated before then. Eleven varieties are offered, including several Belgian styles such as Dubbel, Saison and Tripel; and each batch makes about 20-30 pints.

Pulp Culture Many are looking for ways to improve their health, but how about alcohol? Pulp Culture, an L.A.-based company, is offering better-for-you drinks made from 100% raw, fresh juice naturally fermented over three months that contain live probiotic cultures, botanical adaptogens (crafted from medicinal herbs and superfoods) and weigh in at 4.9% ABV and only 99 calories with 0 carbs, 0 sodium and no added sugar. Four flavors are offered, all with healthful sounding names: Think—designed to boost brain power and deliver sustained energy with apple, guava, peach, ginseng, matcha and lion’s mane; Hustle—an uplifting buzz to support an active lifestyle with apple, passionfruit, strawberry, ginger, turmeric and lion’s mane; Restore—a cleansing elixir with apple, grapefruit, goji berry, dandelion, milk thistle and reishi; and Relax—a mix of apple, blueberry, lemon, lavender, valerian root and reishi. With all the healthy ingredients and no additives (with all ingredients listed on the can), you can feel good about imbibing.

Stone Buenaveza Salt & Lime Lager I continue to be impressed at how Stone Brewing has diversified its line of beers. After establishing itself as a brewery known for making bold, hop-forward ales and drawing a following of hopheads, it’s clear the iconic brewery is seeking to satisfy as many beer lovers as possible. Its latest release is a more flavorful version of the lime-flavored lagers which have been offered by the macrobrewers for decades and harkens back to the days when you could put a lime in any bland beer and mimic a Corona. This Mexican-style lager released nationwide just in time for Cinco de Mayo weighs in at only 4.7% ABV and is brewed with Liberty hops, lime and salt. The lime flavor dominates and its crisp, refreshing tartness make this a great thirst quencher for the warmer months.

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TastePro’s Philanthropic Response to COVID-19 By Bob Barnes Photo Credit: Ben Brown

Everyone in the world has been affected by COVID-19 in one form or another. Some of those most affected include frontline healthcare workers who are giving their all and working such long hours they often don’t have the time to procure a hot meal, restaurants forced to drastically cut back their operations and food banks that are overburdened with need during the crisis. What if one organization was able to help out all three worthy groups? That organization is called Feed the Fight, started by our very own Restaurant Editor/Columnist Ben Brown. This is the heartwarming story of how Ben leveraged his entrepreneurial dream to support Southern California restaurants, frontline medical staff and at-risk families through food. What Is Feed the Fight and How Did It Get Started? Before diving into Feed the Fight, it’s helpful to first understand TastePro, the platform from

which Feed the Fight took off. TastePro is a technology company that allows people to book custom, self-guided food tours. For those who aren’t yet familiar with food tours, think of them as a way to visit multiple restaurants and try the best of each place at a fraction of the price. Ben left the corporate world, where he worked in F&B marketing for groups such as MGM Resorts and Carnival Corporation, to start TastePro. After years of development, the company launched in early March. Operations came to a crashing halt a week later. For most entrepreneurs, this would be a soulcrushing situation. But where others might throw in the towel, Ben saw opportunity. In just over a day, he built a subdivision of TastePro aimed toward giving back to the San Diego and Los Angeles communities where his company would otherwise operate. That program is Feed the Fight.

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“The COVID-19 crisis has turned just about every aspect of daily life on its head, but at the same time, has shined the spotlight on selflessness, charity and the ability for people to mobilize with unprecedented speed.” Ben: TastePro was designed as a way for restaurants to fill seats during their slower periods. The mission has always been to support local restaurants. Now they’re facing a serious uphill battle, so I asked myself, how can I continue this mission within the circumstances we’re facing right now. Then there are those on the front lines. My dad is a doctor and my mom is a nurse. They talk every

day about how challenging it is for ER and ICU staff members. While we can’t help out in the ER, we are able to do what we can to lift their spirits and just say thank you to those amazing healthcare workers. Then, because of the financial impact of this crisis, you have food banks that have been overwhelmed and it’s really sad that they have to turn people away because they simply don’t have enough food to go around. How Feed the Fight Works The operation is relatively simple. Step one is receiving contributions from the TastePro community, which are used to fund meal purchases. Ben: We’ve been very fortunate in getting contributions on a daily basis. After members of the TastePro community shared the story about Feed the Fight with friends and family, the news spread and more funding came from those who had previously never even heard of TastePro before, but were just looking to support local restaurants and a great cause. Feed the Fight then works with the restaurants to place large orders and schedules a time for delivery to hospitals and food banks. Since Feed the Fight supports the restaurants themselves as much as the end recipients of the food, Ben says that bulk or philanthropic discounts are welcome but never expected. In the week prior to this writing, Feed the Fight made six deliveries to ER and ICU units at hospitals such as Scripps Memorial in La Jolla, Scripps Memorial Encinitas, Rady Children’s Hospital and UCSD Thornton. As for food banks, Feed the Fight is working with Santa Clarita Grocery. Ben: [Santa Clarita Grocery] is unique in the aspect that they have virtually no overhead, so anything you give them goes a long way. Their leader, Bradley Grose, is tremendously responsive and so genuinely kind-hearted. It’s been really great working with him. It’s important to note that Feed the Fight is not a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit, so unfortunately donations are not tax deductible (but 100% of contributions goes toward purchases at local restaurants and that food then gets delivered to hospitals and food banks), which Ben states to all potential contributors. The program was formed in response to the COVID-19 crisis, and as Ben puts it, “We never meant to be a charity organization. No one could have predicted this pandemic and as such we never thought we’d pivot in this way. But in a crisis like this, Feed the Fight is TastePro’s way of helping as much as possible within the very short timeline that we have. [Hopefully] this crisis will be long over by the time we’d otherwise be able to establish an official nonprofit arm of the company.” Heartwarming Stories Ben told of receiving a thank you note signed by the entire ICU staff at Scripps Memorial in La Jolla, as well as a message from a pregnant nurse. She shared that the meal she received was the best she had in weeks and made her feel so much better that she didn’t have to take the time to grocery shop, cook and clean after pulling a

“In the same way that a good neighbor would come running at a burning building with a garden hose, we’re doing the same thing: just trying to help as much as possible within the very short timeline that we have.”

12-hour shift. It was one of the highlights of the circumstances that she is in. Also rewarding is the looks on people’s faces when Ben and his volunteers arrive at a restaurant and again when they arrive at the hospitals. Ben: I showed up at a restaurant in North County [San Diego] recently and the owner/ chef came up to me and had to restrain himself from giving me a big hug, because we just can’t do that right now, and said, “this order allowed me to bring back one of my staff members.” To think about that cook that’s now working for a day and sleeping a little better at night because they can pay bills they couldn’t pay before. I’ve also been getting many text messages and emails from participating restaurant owners that can’t express enough gratitude. After the Crisis Ben: I started my career in the nonprofit world, serving with Teach for America. I ultimate left to pursue my entrepreneurial dream, but the idea of giving back is just in my blood and something I want to continue doing. Now being the owner of a company that has the potential to do that, it’s something I’m even more excited about once the world restores itself to normalcy. It would be an amazing thing if this all ended tomorrow. Feed the Fight is a temporary solution for both TastePro and our partners. What I see happening in the long-term is for Feed the Fight to fade with the impact of the COVID crisis and instead for TastePro to build some great partnerships with local registered nonprofits. I see TastePro donating some of its proceeds to those nonprofits, allowing community members to support a good cause and enjoy some great food along the way.

This has opened my eyes to the impact TastePro can make beyond the food experience it creates for our guests. The power of giving has truly been an amazing experience personally, makes me feel good at the end of the day knowing I get to make an impact, but really it’s not me, it’s the people who are making these contributions; I’m just the one behind the scenes. The Future of TastePro Many of the restaurants Feed the Fight supports are TastePro partners. In Santa Clarita there are more than a dozen and in San Diego there are neighborhoods of Del Mar, Encinitas and Carmel Valley—each with about a dozen restaurants. As TastePro continues to expand across Southern California, restaurants are signing on in both north and south county San Diego, in neighborhoods like Pacific Beach, North Park, Hillcrest, Little Italy—really hot food destinations; in Orange County, Newport Beach, Corona Del Mar, Dana Point, Anaheim, Irvine and Orange; and in greater LA is where TastePro is looking to expand next—in neighborhoods like Pasadena, Hollywood, Downtown LA and Santa Monica. Ben: I feel like I’ve gotten to develop some very deep friendships through this situation. In times of crisis, I feel that people’s true character is revealed. I want to be able to show that an organization like TastePro is truly built on a foundation of supporting restaurants. How You Can Join the Fight Ben encourages any restaurants not included on Feed the Fight’s list to contact him and he will get them on and get them support as soon as possible. For more info or to donate, visit or email

May 2020 I The SoCal Food & Beverage Professional 13

The Bottom Line How to Start a Restaurant, From an Expert in Design, Permitting, Licensing and Development

Photo credit: Eddie Navarette

Eddie Navarette, also known as ‘Fast Eddie,’ is the Founder and Chief Consultant of FE Design and Consulting. Over the past 19 years, Navarette has helped restaurateurs navigate the complex landscape of permitting, licenses, design, engineering and development, all to ultimately “get the doors open on time.” From building and health codes to permits, licenses and planning variances, Navarette

By Ben Brown Benjamin Brown, MBA is Restaurant Editor of The SoCal Food & Beverage Professional. A seasoned

writer and consultant, Ben works with Fortune 500

companies and mom & pop shops alike in Marketing, Analytics, Consumer Insights, PR and Business

Development. Contact Ben at or follow him @Foodie_Biz.

has worked with more than 500 concepts that restaurant development] were. I expanded include renowned names such as Lemonade, my knowledge outside of kitchen design Sprinkles Cupcakes, Providence, Pitfire Pizza, and started working with architects and The Bellwether and Animal, among others. engineers, getting into the intricacies of He took the time to share some tales from the how kitchens and restaurants were built. I learned about the electrical systems and restaurant design and development world, as well as deliver valuable advice for aspiring and types of plugs needed, how to achieve desired temperatures in different areas, current owners to take in. the list goes on. In that journey, I started to What inspired you to go into restaurant provide services from just kitchen design to design and development? architectural plans to alcohol licensing and Kitchen design and navigating folks through planning applications. I led presentations to the perils of restaurant permitting wasn’t neighborhoods and did anything necessary something I wanted to do initially. It wasn’t to get the signoff for whatever application we were doing. what I went to school for or dreamed about, nor would I ever dream about even doing it And what led you to start your own business now [laughs]. around restaurant design and development? My initial goal was to get a job with the I realized that there was a ton of opportunity Power Rangers. I wanted to be a musician to make a business out of knowing the and have a day job in production. When that answers to the questions a lot of industry didn’t work out, I actually got my first job out professionals didn’t know. Restaurant in L.A. as a kitchen designer. In the process development doesn’t have to be complicated. of learning kitchen design and inspecting I thought that I could be that person to help everything from discount stores and gas people navigate through the process. stations to restaurants and nightclubs, I It was also being so emotionally connected to found out there were a lot of limitations [to these folks that put everything on the line to launching a restaurant] governed by the start their businesses. These people who told regulatory bodies and the design team. me about how easy they thought it should be, I wanted to know more, and started learning but got delayed; their friends who gave them bad advice were no longer their friends. It what the codes and processes [around

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was helping these people that told me, ‘this is something I want to do.’ Now, my company has about 17 employees. I get the same joy leading my employees as I have leading the business owners I work with. There are so many challenges out there, but I guess that someone has to be there to help people navigate the journey to create the business they envisioned in the first place. What got you the nickname Fast Eddie? Everyone wants to claim that they were the one to give me the name Fast Eddie [laughs], but the most solid memory I have comes from my time as a musician, when I was first starting out in high school. One of the first venues I played at was a 21+ venue. I was 16 at the time, and when I went on stage I was totally terrified. I played through the entire set in about half the time it typically took us. My bandmates, who were all much older, looked back at me when we finished and said, ‘Oh my god, Fast Eddie.” On a related note, that band was originally called Dogstar, but we were forced to change our name because Keanu Reeves took it from us. It was a ‘growing up in L.A.’ kind of experience [laughs]. But now, everyone in the business just knows me as ‘Fast Eddie.’ It’s become a big part of my brand, to the point when people hear the name ‘Fast Eddie,’ they know someone who’s worked with me and the conversation instantly turns to one of trust and friendship. How did you land your first client? How do you get new clients? I worked for a kitchen designer for three years before going off on my own. It was in that period where I met a lot of customers. They trusted me with the knowledge I had gained at that point, and started asking me to help them with a few issues. I started working with clients before I even left [the kitchen design job], building up my reputation as ‘the guy’ to help people out. It started with little projects like awning permits. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into but I knew I was getting the job done. I knew a lot of professionals in the industry that would help me along the way. My father was a used car salesman. I learned a lot from him, about how to close a deal and get what you needed. It helps me a lot in doing what I do now, working with government bodies, contractors and architects. Being able to adapt and relate to different communication styles is critical to land new business. And as far as getting clients now, I do most of my business by just being out there, attending restaurant openings, dining out and supporting my current clients, being a part of the restaurant community. At the end of the day, though, any professional in the industry would agree that it’s about dedication, being resourceful, and above all, communication. Talk about some of your most recent projects and the challenges they’ve posed that other owners should learn from. The playing field is always changing. Regulations are always getting more

restrictive. It’s not getting any easier. One of the biggest issues in restaurants is Different governmental bodies and industry how to reduce labor and how to increase professionals all have a different way of efficiencies to become more sustainable. The interpreting code. This is especially hard underlying change we should be looking to is for restaurant owners, who don’t really making it so that restaurants aren’t spending speak that language. It’s like walking into a so much. mechanic’s shop without knowing anything For me, it’s about logistics and coming about cars. up with responsible designs that increase It comes down to doing your due diligence. Do your research, understand a realistic efficiency. Ways to save on utilities, designs timeline and budget to get a project off the that require fewer people on the floor. I really enjoy the design portion of my work. Laying ground. Understanding these items gives out a flow for the business. Each little piece you negotiating power with landlords, of square footage means so much. But in construction professionals and others. order to be a responsible designer, you have There are all kinds of different governmental regulatory boogymen out there, and the due to be familiar with regulation and how you’re going to execute your design to ultimately diligence is really going to help you. People make the mistake about talking to the city save on these costs. about how long a project is going to take. The And you say you do advocacy work for people behind the counter don’t necessarily restaurants? have that knowledge. Only someone who’s Advocacy has been at the core of why I do done it before will. what I do. It’s not just about getting through You’re going to need folks who know about applications, regulations and planning, the process and not looking back…I can never otherwise you’re going to have a hard time. If do that. I see these issues and bottlenecks you’re hiring an architect or engineer, make with restaurant regulations, and look at how sure they have experienced building out we can modernize codes to get with the times. restaurants before. They need to be familiar Restaurant owners deal with a lot of outdates with the dynamics and regulations of that regulations that make opening a business area. unnecessarily hard, so we go to bat not You can never do enough due diligence. just for them, but all business owners and entrepreneurs like them. We’ve been in Where do you see restaurant design trends going in the next 5 years? What types of the field long enough to know that it’s our layouts and concepts are going to pop up responsibility to help shape the bigger more often? picture.

May 2020 I The SoCal Food & Beverage Professional 15

By Chef Allen Asch Feel free to contact Chef Allen with ideas for comments or future articles at

Chef Talk

Chef Allen Asch M. Ed., CCE is a retired culinary arts instructor who has earned degrees from Culinary Institute of America, Johnson and Wales University and Northern Arizona University and taught at UNLV. He earned his Certified Culinary Educator Endorsement from the American Culinary Federation in 2003.


As I write this month’s column, I hope everyone is healthy and safe and know my prayers are out there for our entire country. This month I’m going to share with you my January trip to Portland, Oregon (luckily before any travel restrictions were put in place). It’s not like I’m showing you my pictures, I’m going to share with you a fabulous tour and tasting of one of Portland’s hidden gems. When talking about truffles most people think of the chocolate kind, but I’m talking about the truffles that are in the mushroom family and considered a delicacy, and are priced like that. While France is known for black truffles and Italy is known for their white truffles, in Oregon you can get both, depending on the season. Chocolate truffles got their name because they look like the black mushroom truffles from France. Truffles traditionally were sniffed out by pigs but currently around the world they are now mostly using dogs, because the pigs would eat the truffles. Almost all dogs can sniff out the truffle, including Chihuahuas, but the Italian breed that is known for this job is the Lagotto Romagnolos. These dogs have a natural ability to sniff out truffles but can cost up to $8,500 for a puppy. Truffles grow underground around the base of a few varieties of trees. In Oregon, the Douglas Fir is the tree that people and dogs usually search around. Unlike other mushrooms that grow above the surface, truffles grow underground. The above ground mushrooms allow water and wind to disburse their spores while their relatives underground scatter their spores via animals that eat them. The purpose of my trip was to celebrate at the

Oregon Truffle Festival, which has been around for 14 years and occurs in January every year. During this festival you get to learn about truffles, hunt for truffles and most important, eat truffles. Oregon truffles are a bargain compared to their European relatives. Black truffles (French) go for around $800 a pound while white truffles (Italy) fetch up to $3,000 a pound, but truffles from Oregon cost much less. White truffles from the Northwest go for around $25 per ounce and black truffles go for more than twice that. Oregon truffles have a reputation of not being very flavorful, but part of that was from before dogs were introduced as foragers, as foragers would use a rake, which marred the outside of the truffle, shortening its shelf life and inhibiting flavor. As Oregon truffles only have a shelf life of around 10 days, they must be refrigerated. This is compared to French truffles that have a sixmonth shelf life in the refrigerator or 10 days at room temperature. The fresher they are, the better they taste. Around Portland these Douglas Firs have not, and are not, going to be chopped down, for these trees that allow truffles to grow by their roots are less valuable as timber than for the truffles that are harvested. An acre of trees can foster thousands of dollars worth of truffles every year, and leaving the trees up allows them to reproduce year after year. Oregon’s white truffles have two seasons: They are harvested from May to July and then again November to March. Black truffles are harvested starting in October and ending in May, with January and February being the peak months. This is the reason that the festival is held in January. Additionally, another 350 species of truffles grow in the Pacific Northwest.

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Oregon’s Truffle Festival is celebrated in two weekends late in January in Eugene, Oregon, and if you can’t make it then, there’s also a festival in February in the Yamhill Valley, which is closer to Portland. The Pacific Northwest, specifically Oregon, is well-known for its mushrooms. As a matter of fact, the largest mushroom ever discovered was in Oregon, and measured almost one square acre. This species is called a honey mushroom. This mushroom is considered the oldest organism in the world and is estimated to be around 8,650 years old. This mushroom is connected underground with above ground caps appearing throughout the area. This has been confirmed through scientific DNA studies of the different growth areas. This size mushroom is actually a hindrance to the life of the trees it is drawing energy from. Truffles can be verified as far back as 20,000 BC. They lost favor for a long time but regained their popularity during the Renaissance period. During this time the French cuisine stepped away from its use of Oriental spices and began using more earthy and indigenous ingredients. The greatest luxury at that time for the wealthy was a truffled turkey, which will be on my table next year. Truffles can be cultivated, but take a lot of space and moisture to take hold. Unfortunately, a lot of diseases can affect the quality and quantity of growth for truffles. Beware of truffle oils as they are usually not made with true truffles, but rather a synthetic flavoring that replicates the truffle. The next thing I’m going to do with my beautiful truffles I brought home is make a flavored truffle vodka. I hope it’s as good as it sounds.

Wine Talk

with Alice Swift

By Alice Swift Alice Swift, Assistant Editor and Journalist for The Las Vegas and SoCal F&B Professional, is passionate about hospitality/F&B, education and instructional design, with 15+ years of experience. In 2016, she moved from Las Vegas to Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi, working for the UH System as a multimedia instructional designer, while maintaining her hospitality/F&B ties through writing, teaching and consulting (Swift Hospitality Consulting). email: | website:

Here we are, another month has passed, and still going through a crisis we never thought was possible. The devastating COVID-19 virus has practically halted the hospitality and food & beverage industry since mid-March, and the unemployment rate has reached sky-high records. Just in March alone, Nevada saw over 200,000 unemployment files. In Hawaiʻi, where I reside, unemployment claims were 250,000+, with reports from mid-April showing more than 37% unemployment.With so many hotels, casinos, sporting arenas, entertainment venues/ shows and restaurants all being forced to close, it’s hard to imagine how our hospitality will ever recover. Interestingly, as I explore my social media feeds, I have been seeing many photos and posts centered on one common element: beverage. From scheduling a social “Zoom happy hour” session, to talking about needing to “stock up” on the beer, wine and spirits, it makes sense that people are needing a little vice to survive quarantining 24 hours a day. Although many food and beverage establishments are not open for dine-in services, many businesses are starting to either expand or adapt their services and offerings to explore new ways to generate revenue. Some cities have been able to grant temporary permits to allow stores like Lee’s Liquor (from select Las Vegas, Mesquite and Reno locations) to accommodate home delivery of online orders. Having had lots of time to reflect on the “good times” when we had the freedom to go out in public, and socialize with friends, I decided to look back to one of my first beverage-focused jobs in the F&B industry. I was born and raised in Southern California in the city Walnut (towards inland L.A.). During the latter half of my high school years,

Photo Credit: Packing House Wines

A Walk Down Memory Lane During COVID-19

EV Sauceda Medina and Sal Medina, owners of Packing House Wines.

EV and Sal providing personal beverage delivery service.

I moved to Claremont, California, most wellknown for its reputable Claremont Colleges. It wasn’t the typical “bustling” college town, as it was somewhat peaceful and kind of mellow. Businesses were closed very early and weekends were fairly quiet, with no semblance of social or nightlife. At that time, the “downtown” of Claremont referred to the Claremont Village, with various businesses and “mom and pop” food and beverage establishments. Fun Fact! Did you know that the city of Claremont has a city ordinance that does not allow conventional drive-thrus, a.k.a. fast food restaurants? Directly across the borders to other neighboring cities like Pomona and Upland are where you will find most of your high traffic fast food chains, like McDonald’s, Jack In the Box, etc. Across the main street (Indian Hill Blvd.) is the historic Claremont Packing House (CPH). This building was home to The College Heights Orange and Lemon Packing House (circa 1922), which after a long period of decline beginning in the 1970s, eventually closed and was renovated and re-opened in 2007, with a multipurpose space housing lofts, offices, galleries, boutiques, food and beverage, and entertainment venues. What I love about CPH is its experiential history and walk down memory lane of the different materials and structural components retained from the days as a citrus packing house, along with display exhibits. Fast forwarding to 2007, after returning home to finish my schooling at Cal Poly Pomona, I was impressed to see that Claremont has picked up its social spirit and vibe over the years, including in the Packing House. Today, CPH boasts almost 100 occupants, with boutique shops, café/eateries, art galleries and many fun special events year round.

After discovering my passion for beverage education, I obtained a job working for Sal Medina and Ev Sauceda Medina, owners of Packing House Wines (then known as Packing House Wine Merchants), where I was able to learn so much about wine while working there. The wine shop has since expanded to a full kitchen to enhance the beverage experience with wine dinners and other special events. With hundreds of wines to explore, plus the many wines by the glass available, it was the perfect beverage classroom to study beverage and food service! Packing House Wines recently celebrated its 13-year anniversary on April 8, and is still going strong. Due to the temporary setback of COVID-19, Packing House Wines decided to close their food service. However, during this stay-at-home period, Packing House Wines is still open for retail purchases and curbside pickup. To help get everyone through this period, they are also offering free local delivery within 48 hours. Next time you head to the Inland Empire, or on your next trip from Vegas to L.A. (or L.A. to Vegas), why not take a detour to Claremont for a history lesson paired with some amazing food and wine? Visit the links below to learn more: • Packing House Wines Website • Claremont Packing HouseWebsite • Bonus: Watch the Claremont Packing House episode of visiting with Huell Howser - Take care and stay healthy everyone! Until next month, Cheers~! Alice

May 2020 I The SoCal Food & Beverage Professional 17



As we continue to weather the COVID-19 crisis, our minds drift to what could have been. April is typically home to some of SoCal’s greatest food festivals, and we miss them dearly. Now, however, we strive to think about what will be. Even the worst storms come to pass, and we’re eager to enjoy the next culinary spectacular with you when that time comes.

Al Dentes’ Provisions 702-642-1100

page 19

Arctic Ice Plus CBD Water 702-8698152

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Until then, be thankful that there is a tomorrow, and we will emerge from this crisis as better people and as a stronger community.

Big Dog’s Brewing Company page 18 702-368-3715 Jay’s Sharpening Service 702-645-0049 Keep Memory Alive Event Center 702-263-9797

page 18

page 2

4310 W Tompkins Ave Las Vegas, NV 89103

702-645-0049 •

Mobile Service Our mobile service vans provide sharpening services on-site to even the largest resort properties, without disrupting workflow. Commercial Knife Exchange Program We furnish sharp knives to your kitchen on a weekly or biweekly rotation schedule.

Jay’s Sharpening Service

Cutting Board Resurfacing & Replacements

Arville St

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•Wholesale distributor of exceptional quality dried spices and specialty foods to the finest hotels and restaurants •Owned and operated by a former chef with over 20 years of experience •Custom packed Herbs and Spices •Custom Spice Blends •Private labeling •Now Certified Kosher