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Culture Fruits & Vegetables Health Nightlife Plant-Based Restaurants

This Creative Eight Course Plant-Based Meal Is Attracting Vegans and Non-Vegans Alike

As a vegan, I know about all the new products, restaurants and Netflix documentaries. I have vegan friends and share some of the same vegan views. At times, in this vegan bubble of mine, I even begin to believe everyone’s becoming vegan. A simple conversation with a relative quickly dispels that notion. The reality is that within the United States, vegans only make up an estimated 3% of the entire population. That’s like comparing an edamame, to an, I don’t know, elephant. 

A recent study reveals the silver lining, as veganism has increased around 300% in the last 15 years. That’s an incredible explosion within a short space of time. You can credit the internet with this “mushroom” cloud of a diet shift. Whereas the initial conversation siloed around animal rights, over the years it’s expanded to include climate change and personal health and wellness. More specifically, two important factors for any new way of approaching things; advances in technology and just plain ol’ hands-on human ingenuity. 

One person forging her own brand of human ingenuity is Executive Chef Mimi Williams of Counterpart Vegan in Echo Park, California. Using 100% market fresh ingredients and plant-based processes, she creates familiar staples that are nearly indistinguishable from their original meat-based iterations. This is in stark contrast to many vegan spots that feature alternative protein-heavy menus, which are great advances as well, yet different. 

Raised in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, Williams was one of only a handful of Black families in the community. She shared a household with her parents and six brothers of Sicilian/Creole descent. Although she didn’t resemble most of her neighbors, Williams had a strong family support system. One could say she grew up with a traditional family in a non-traditional setting.

While her mother seemingly loved cooking and wanted Williams to learn, she recalls initially being resistant, feeling forced into doing a thing based on her gender expectations. Learning how to cook felt more like work than fun. Noticing that, her father encouraged her to cook things that interested her. That encouragement was the magic needed to open the floodgates of the world of food.

Williams’ was pushed to explore alternative diets during a period in which her father experienced health complications. With his doctor citing less meat consumption as a course of action, her family subsequently became early adopters of a mostly plant-based diet. By this time, Williams had become the de facto cook for her family, with her siblings frequently requesting her food.

At first, it took awhile to adjust to a mostly plant-based lifestyle, but after witnessing her father’s health improve firsthand, she was convinced the diet change was the right decision. These experiences helped Williams develop a perspective on food many Black people don’t have. She discovered veganism some years later during pregnancy after realizing she could no longer consume meat.

Honing her craft at restaurants across America, Williams’ still carries the same spirit of fearlessness and creativity her father encouraged as the current Executive Chef of Counterpart Vegan. Joining the team in 2019, she set about revitalizing Counterpart’s array of offerings. She credits a period of stagnant creativity as the stimuli behind her latest eight course tasting menu.

Consisting of familiar foods inspired by her upbringing, the flavors feel authentic. Some of the offerings include heirloom tomato carpaccio with a tasty and tangy vegan feta, pappardelle made from beets, seasoned squash ravioli and an unforgettable tiramisu as the finale. Williams’ new menu is a fine dining experience vegans and non-vegans alike can enjoy. She says she wants people to walk away feeling a sense of hope, and that when they share, “I didn’t know you could do that with this type of food,” that’s how she knows she’s on the right track.

If you’re looking for some momentary respite from quarantine, while supporting small businesses during the pause of outdoor dining, Chef Mimi will be offering a condensed version of the tasting menu as take-out for two. The dinner package will include a salad, appetizer, pasta, dessert, and likely, two non-alcoholic drinks.

There will be 25 of these dinner plates available to all guests and can be pre-ordered on Tock. The dinner package will be available every Friday and Saturday for pick-up, from 6PM-8PM.

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Health Packaged Food

KIND Announces KIND HEROES to support Mental Health

Although the coronavirus crusade continues, humanity has somehow managed to achieve some semblance of normalcy. The strength we exhibit during difficult times should be no surprise, there’s no match for our togetherness.

Much of this strength can be owed to those who work on the frontlines, day in and day out, risking their lives to ensure our health and safety. Commendably, we’ve done well expressing our thanks to essential works through billboards, commercials and community initiatives. One area that has received less consideration though, is the impact frontline work has had on their mental health. Imagine having to do your job in an atmosphere of uncertainty for months on end, all while being expected to maintain a semblance of strength.  

To help bring more awareness and support to the mental health crisis frontline workers face, KIND is launching a multi-faceted project named KIND HEROES. A recent study by JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) found that over 50% of physicians working on the frontlines felt depressed. With no clear end in sight to the pandemic, and without sufficient support, continual trauma is likely.

The KIND HEROES initiative will donate 100% of proceeds to NAMI, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization. They plan to pledge a minimum donation of $25,000, matched by an additional $25,000 from The KIND Foundation that supports mental health programs for our true American heroes such as healthcare workers, first responders, military service members and veterans.

KIND HEROES was inspired by a survey conducted by The KIND Foundation’s Frontline Impact Project, a platform which directs donated resources to workers on the frontlines of COVID-19 and other natural disasters. Results revealed an increase in mental health challenges for essential workers, following PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), mental health resources were cited as the most important need.


You can show your support for our American heroes on October 6th, when the KIND HEROES bar releases online and at select retail stores.

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Alcohol Brand Drinks Technology What's New

Snoop Dogg’s First Foray Into Wine Is A Surprising Red

Snoop Dogg is no doubt a household name, one that’s synonymous with weed, women, and the West Coast. With his first foray into wine, Snoop may have yet another W under his belt. Expertly weaving his own vision while never forgetting to represent where he came from, Snoop has always been an unlikely face for many of his ventures beyond music, continually subverting our expectations. I suppose one could say gin & juice is to Snoop Doggy Dog as the new Cali Red is to Uncle Snoop, another evolution of possibilities. 

Collaborating with gangsta-adjacent wine brand 19 Crimes, Snoop Dogg brings their first ever California-bottled offering to fans. Sourced from NorCal’s Lodi region, Cali Red blends Petite Syrah 65%, Zinfandel 30%, and Merlot 5%. A complimentary crimson-concoction to Snoop’s canine cool. The blend also uses all-American oak, introducing a distinct smokiness that provides vanilla and chocolate. 

A look into the backstory of the brand reveals that 19 Crimes is based upon 18th century British convicts turned colonists that were exiled to Australia as punishment in place of death. The 19 Crimes were created during the Industrial Revolution as an answer to the growing overpopulation of Great Britain, which resulted in an increase of crime. With an antiquated legal system, grossly overwhelmed by criminal cases and crowded prisons, Britain declared exile to Australia as punishment. Most convicts never survived the trip. In actuality, there were a reported 200 crimes that could seal one’s fate to the land down under. 

Marrying the Northern California sweetness to Snoop’s South California smoothness creates the perfect red and blue compliment at just $12.99 a bottle. The wine also has an AR feature that allows you to scan the label, revealing a special message from Snoop. By downloading the “Living Wine Labels” app, users can hold their mobile devices over any Cali Red label and be greeted by words of wisdom, affirmations and of course, Snoop’s famously known swagger.

Snoop’s Cali Red is now available for purchase online.

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Hit-Or-Miss

Happy Ice’s Philly-Style Water Ice is the Perfect Summer Treat

Summer is here and no ‘rona is gonna stop hot days from heating up. I can’t say whether our collective desire to socialize publicly despite the apparent health risks is a testament to our indifference or our endurance. Nevertheless, it’s important to find ways of maintaining some sense of normalcy, albeit with a level of responsibility and respect to the times. 

In the spirit of maintaining that, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lemeir Mitchell, brainchild of popular Melrose Ave. chillzone Happy Ice. Following a wildly successful opening of his first brick & mortar location, during a maelstrom of social unrest and the corona-demic, Lemeir and I talked about his humble beginnings.

Originally from Philadelphia, the imprisonment of his Father sent Mitchell into a phase of youthful recklessness. One which led his concerned uncle Joey to step in as a support system to help him build self confidence. Looking for a fresh start, Mitchell moved to Los Angeles following the passing of his brother. One of 13 siblings, he is no stranger to hard work, as he spent many nights sleeping at his then job at the time, a tattoo parlor.  

One day, he saw an ice cream truck driving around Melrose and was impressed by the visual aesthetic. It was an inspiring and fresh way to approach the traditional ice cream truck. Noticing an opportunity to bring a bit of his hometown to Los Angeles, Mitchell, along with the help of his wife, mother, and many restless nights, created Happy Ice.

Mitchell wanted to introduce Angelinos to one of his hometown’s most popular staples, Philadelphia water ice, one that he says is just as important there as the world famous Philly Cheesesteak. Curiously discovering a way to achieve the same scoop each time, Lemeir credits his “perfect scoop” technique as a main factor to Happy Ice’s instagram following. A visit to their Instagram page is akin to feeling like a kid again, with the colorful allure perfectly suited to social virality.

As for the treat itself, Philadelphia water ice is definitely unique. It blends the creaminess of ice cream with the refreshing ease of shaved ice combined with sorbet-esque flavors. Happy Ice has no dairy, nut products, and uses natural flavors. In other words, it’s everybody-friendly. This inclusive treat stands juxtaposed to the protests which raged around Melrose Avenue, threatening to interfere with the grand opening of Happy Ice’s brick and mortar. A moment after which, the settled dust revealed a landscape of destroyed business fronts and property.

Miraculously, Happy Ice made it through unscathed. As a business owner, Mitchell’s plea to the frustrated masses marching through Melrose was punctuated by a photo of him with the words “Black Owned.” His commitment to the community is rooted in wanting to inspire not only Black business owners but anyone who has a dream. During the recent protests, the Happy Ice squad gave out free cups, hoping to offer a momentary respite from the harrowing moment. This community involvement has been a pillar of Happy Ice’s mission from its inception and continues today.

As the tug of war between the pre-corona and post-corona world persists, Happy Ice continues to serve the community, standing as an example of small-business perseverance. This is the spirit with which every cup of Happy Ice is infused and one Mitchell hopes to pass on in every scoop.

To get your hands on a cup of happiness, stop by Happy Ice on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles or follow their Instagram page to find out where their roving trucks will be pulling up next.

Categories
Culture Opinion

Uncomfortable ‘Black Lives Matter’ Dinner Conversations That Are Necessary

dinner

There’s so much to unpack about this year. We have a raging pandemic, an unsuitable President in the position of leadership, and record high death and unemployment. Overall, a melting pot of unrest, fear, anger, impatience, stewed with a strong sense of feeling unacknowledged. Sirens, explosions and chants soundtrack the nationwide protests. Determined to be heard, those on the front line brave tear gas, rubber bullet and baton.

As we begin our second consecutive week of city-wide protests here in Los Angeles, efforts are being made globally in support of not only justice for George Floyd, but the many lives taken at the hands of police brutality for generations. Black and Brown, White or Yellow, and everything in between; each of us are experiencing first hand what lies behind the veil; a slow reveal of systemic oppression. While intersectionality has existed in many forms over the years, today, our access to witness police brutality in real-time has sparked an overwhelming intersectional, international response that has never before occured.

Fighting for a cause is not easy. It takes courage to voice an unpopular opinion about injustices, to challenge the status quo and to attempt to inspire change in your fellow human beings. No one likes being told what they believe is wrong, especially if they’ve believed it for most of their life. Systemic racism runs centuries deep, so to educate another about its impact requires lots of patience. It requires lots of self-education as well.

Protest doesn’t just reside in the streets, it also has a place in our daily interactions with friends and family, at home or over dinner. Being accustomed to our social routine makes having those “dinner time” conversations challenging. We all have that overt racist relative that for all our lives, we’ve made the excuse, “Oh that’s just how they are.” Other times the racism is less overt and more rooted in a misconception of class inferiority and privilege. Nevertheless, we can no longer allow fear to impede the change we know deep down is necessary.

I’d like to share a quote from Margaret Renkl of The New York Times, “And the problem with writing off people who don’t recognize this country’s pervasive and enduring culture of white supremacy, much less the ways in which they themselves benefit from it, is simple: Being called a racist almost never causes a racist to wake up. Being called a racist almost never causes a racist to say, “Oh, wow, you’re right.”

So how do we have these uncomfortable conversations with close friends and loved ones? How many more family dinners can we have where we allow racist remarks to go unchecked, simply for the sake of not ruining everyone’s meal? These are some questions we’ve asked ourselves here at Foodbeast. With our unique family dynamics and cultural experiences, there seems no single way to approach this conversation. Thinking more about this, I felt that maybe by just sharing personal experiences, we could help to inspire others who are similarly wanting to speak up but unsure of the best method. This is a convo many of us have had or will need to have, so I decided to reach out to close friends as well as fellow Foodbeast fam to share their uncomfortable dinner conversations:

“Yesterday, our city had a scheduled peaceful protest. This was the first time that I really paid attention to my parents’ media consumption. They only have Facebook and watch traditional news from Spanish TV channels. I realized that they haven’t seen any of the peaceful protesting, the policemen that instigate violence, the white looters who destroy cities in the name of BLM, the repeated incidents throughout the country. I took some time to show them some things on my Twitter feed, and reminded them that this stuff is coming from real people on the scene, whereas the stuff that they’re watching is coming from sensationalized news. Although they were surprised, I think I was the one who had a bigger moment of realization. Members of my immediate and extended family are not consuming the same news that I am, and it’s my responsibility to direct them to those sources. As light-skinned Latinos, we don’t have conversations about colorism or American racism in regards to the Black community. I’m now actively responding to them more on Facebook & sharing more about BLM.”


“I call out my family on pretty much everything. Asian families have a deeply rooted anti-Blackness, so anything involving Black people they blame it on them – saying how they’re scary, they’re violent, etc. I try to educate by talking about the bigger picture, how the media frames black people as antagonists, how it’s unfair how we are so anti-Black without questioning why. Of course I’m either met with silence or resistance.”


“The conversation was with my boyfriend and mom regarding looting and rioting. I had to explain to my boyfriend the dangers of telling a non-Black person that you don’t agree with the looting and rioting. Now my mom thinks, “See he is Black and he doesn’t like it either.” Well obviously he doesn’t want his neighborhood fucked up like the riots and Black and Brown business owners suffering from it, but when my mom hears that, she hears “He hates all looting and rioting.”

And I make my case for why looting and rioting happens – deeply embedded in the country’s history, wealth gap, history of ownership and private property and the disparities for Black and Brown folks. And my boyfriend is like, “Yes I get it but I still don’t think they should be fucking up OUR shit.” So I’m like, “You need to make that very clear to my mother.” And my mom said, “No, I get it.” And I know her ass doesn’t.”


“Whenever I have these conversations with my mom, she meets it with resistance (from deeply rooted racism), but the more I talk, the more I explain, the more she listens. But I do remember an instance where she responded to my conversations with, “Oh so now you’re gonna go date a Black guy?” and I got angry because she missed the point. But with more conversations, more calling out, the more I see her think. I had a more broad talk with her when we were talking about the COVID protests, how white people use their privilege to protest their “rights being taken away”, the way that they haven’t been oppressed and how that’s the main issue at hand. It’s never been about how Black people are “bad,” it’s been about how society responds to privilege and the layers of systemic racism. These convos are just going to have to keep happening for change to happen.”


“I talked to my friend who only dates Black males and wasn’t doing anything about this movement that was uncomfortable. She ended up listening to me but I told her, “Hey you’ve only dated men of color the entire time I’ve known you and you are dating one right now…and you’re letting all of these things happen and you can’t even show up when I ask you to come with me to make a difference. It makes me mad that you complain about white people all the time but at a time that it really matters you care more about yourself and your own comfort.”


“I have a friend that used the n-word while I was on the phone with them, the catalyst being a hit-and-run accident on the freeway while raining.

I’ve never had the courage to talk to them about it. I’m deathly afraid because I fear it will destroy a friendship of hundreds of positive experiences together. A friendship that’s had an insanely positive impact on my life.

I believe I’m gathering the courage, but to be honest, I’m so afraid that I can’t stop crying while writing this.”

As you can see, there is no perfect way to go about broaching the sensitive subject of racism. The conversation you have with your elders may be different than the one you have with those in your age group. The common thread in all of these stories is that it requires patience and persistence. Your food might get cold in the process.

New information uproots, shifts and transforms. How that experience feels to us is dependent on our willingness to accept change. Equally important is the messenger. We’re experiencing probably one of the most pivotal moments of our lifetime where if we want real change, it requires real action. Not selfish action, but mindful action. At Foodbeast, we’re working each day to learn how to better support that change. Below are some links that discuss ways to help you break the ice as these necessary conversations are had:

How To Tell Someone You Love They’re Being Racist

How To Talk To Your White Family About Racism

How To Talk To Your Friends And Family About Race

Teaching Tolerance

Categories
Entrepreneurship Food Trends Health Sustainability

Salmon Skin Chips Are Here, Would You Try Them?

goodfish

Growing up, pork rinds were a popular snack. My mother, vehemently anti-pork, would never buy them, but on a rare occasion, I’d steal a munch from a relative or friend. Even now, I recall the salty crunch, and how quick they mysteriously evaporate in your mouth. Those are good memories, yet with age, I became more conscious of my diet and as a result, haven’t had a chicharron in years. With that said, pork skins are still wildly popular. 

In today’s “alternative world,” social media has spurred entrepreneurship which in turn has fueled innovation across industries. As health consciousness grows and alternative “everything’s” are popping up weekly, a pork rind alternative was inevitable. 

goodfish

New upstart snack brand Goodfish is that answer. It’s the aquatic alternative to pork rinds and is made with wild caught Alaskan Salmon from Bristol Bay. These fish skins are packed with clean protein, good omega fats and marine collagen. Goodfish aims to give you all the nutrients, with none of the sluggishness carbs cause. They come in four flavors; Sea Salt, Spicy BBQ, Chili Lime and the oddly curious Tart Cranberry. 

I don’t know about ya’ll, but these sound pretty fire to me. They have a lighter crisp but still deliver on the salty savoriness. I can’t call the tart cranberry though. Would you try these as a healthier alternative to pork rinds? Possibly a replacement?  

If you’re interested in doing a deep dive, you can find Goodfish at your local retailer here.

Categories
Health News Restaurants

Amazon Studios Donates $1 Million to Jon & Vinny’s to Help Feed Those in Need

Photo Provided By: Omari Allen

As COVID’s curve on the world gradually flattens out, we’re seeing slow beginnings towards normalcy. Maybe a different normality than we’re accustomed to, but living life again nevertheless. It’s part of the human spirit; rather than simply conform, we’ve chosen to confront. This strength has manifested in a multitude of ways, from the courage of essential workers, to local farms helping to distribute food, even the spike in video chat apps is an indicator of how we come together in challenging times. 

Joining the fray, Amazon Studios has announced that it will be donating $1 Million to the award-winning Los Angeles-based restaurant group, Jon & Vinny’s. Existing well beyond their two brick & mortar locations in Brentwood & Fairfax, Jon & Vinny’s Joint Venture Restaurant Group also encompasses Caramelized Productions, their full-service catering company, as well as a slew of popular LA staples. Suffice to say, with Amazon Studios’ donation, Jon & Vinny’s is certainly capable of making a positive impact. 

Additionally, donations will be made to other local restaurants. The ultimate goal of the initiative is to work with local businesses in preparing and delivering meals to No Kid Hungry, Off Their Plate, the Los Angeles Mission and the Motion Picture & Television Fund. Through this social outreach, those in need will receive fresh meals prepared by talented chefs and contributing local restaurants will have financial support to continue serving the community. With over 10 farms and nearly 10 more businesses contributing to this initiative, everyone involved stands to feel real support during this time.  

jon & vinny's

“This unprecedented crisis has impacted all of us in immeasurable ways, and it’s more important than ever that we all do our part to give back at every level — and particularly to our own community,” said Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios. “At Amazon Studios and Prime Video, we’re truly honored to be able to show our support to the community that has always supported us, and to team up with Jon and Vinny’s to provide food to those who so desperately need it along with a lifeline to local businesses.” 

To further reinforce its support, Amazon Studios has converted its “For Your Consideration” billboards into “For Your Community,” with each highlighting COVID-related non-profit organizations.  These billboards are now live across Los Angeles. To learn more about Amazon’s efforts to support communities and non-profits, click here.

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Deals Sweets What's New

Sam’s Club Launches Smaller Sized Cakes for 2020’s Virtual Graduates

I never thought I’d one day be writing a piece about Sam’s Club that involved the word “small.” If memory serves me, my last visit to Sam’s Club began around noon and ended early evening. The place is simply THAT massive. Size aside, Sam’s Club has been affected by the covid-craziness, too. Efforts to adjust and assist employees have been respectable; they recently approved a second round of bonuses for workers. Additionally, changes to store hours, customer capacity allowances, and shopping slots exclusive to seniors have all been instituted. 

While the corona rages, life must persist, and Sam’s Club’s goal is to continue serving their customer’s needs. For instance, students nationwide are preparing to have virtual ceremonies as graduations are approaching. To support and celebrate this year’s graduates, Sam’s Club, typically known for their massive cakes, have announced smaller-cakes for the at-home festivities.  These smaller cakes are 10”, can be personalized and still pack all the tastiness Sam’s Club cakes are known for. The best part is that it costs less than $10. That’s perfect for families on a budget. You can personalize your cake with your school colors, a picture and a custom message as well. 

Sam’s Club personalized cakes come in various sizes ranging from the smallest, 10” single layer cake, to the mini-two-tier cakes and 15 count cupcakes are also offered. Prices vary depending on specifications as each cake is made from scratch.  A 3-tier option exists for larger gatherings but considering the times, that may have to wait until the dust settles.

If you have a soon-to-be graduate, birthday or other type of celebration around the corner, Sam’s Club is sure to meet your cake needs. Orders can now be made from your local club bakery and online.