The Los Angeles Food Scene Part 2 – Social Media

So let me lay the land for you a little bit, set the landscape of what it was like in Los Angeles 10 years ago. 2008 was quite the transitional time where the Information Age was really just beginning to be for everyone. The first iPhone was released a year before, cell phones started becoming more than just devices to call people with, and cell phone data plans were starting to become part of the norm. Friendster and Myspace were the talk of the town and Facebook was coming onto the scene as the next big thing.
 
Ninong’s in 2008
 
When Ninong’s first opened its doors in 2008 we didn’t know how much social media would effect our culture. Short version of the story – it did, big time. Back then when we talked about our marketing plan (which was very little) we always talked about “traditional” forms of advertising like print ads and word of mouth. Print advertising costed a fortune and word of mouth was working but not fast enough. We opened in a very scary time in our economy, we didn’t realize it at the time. We were panicking, running out of operating funds, and didn’t know what to do.
 
Out of sheer panic I decided to put Ninong’s online. We had a website, but we needed more. I put us on Yahoo Maps, Google Maps, Foursquare, Yelp, pretty much anywhere I could list our business for free. Almost immediately, we saw a slight spike in traffic. We were all amazed! People were using the internet to find our business and people outside of our friends circle were coming to our place. It was obvious that internet marketing was where we needed to be. It’s where all businesses needed to be. After all, internet marketing was free and “free” was more our language lol!
 
LA has changed a lot over the last 10 years
 
When I think about examples of how social media has effected the Los Angeles food scene I immediately think of Kogi truck. They were the first food truck of its kind, setting themselves apart from the trucks we were used to that sold breakfast burritos (not knocking on those trucks, they were good too!). They would utilize the power of Twitter and tell their audience where the truck would park next. People were eating it up, literally and figuratively! People were signing up for Twitter accounts just to find out where they would be next. When you got to their truck the line would be wrapping around blocks. The rest is LA Food Scene History!
 
Kogi’s success, our business’s success, and so many others is living proof of how social media has effected and changed the Los Angeles food culture. Without social media our business would not be where it is today. You don’t need a ballin’ budget to pay for advertising like you did back then (though it obviously doesn’t hurt). Being true to yourself, creating a brand, and cultivating your tribe is what holds true. Small businesses, us small time entrepreneurs, and passionate people have a chance to be seen now. The places we endearingly call “mom and pop shops” are the new thing. We have an opportunity to grow like never before.
 
xoxo,
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FilAm Entrepreneur Luncheon

I don’t know if you remember, but I had lunch with a few fellow Filipino entrepreneurs that I met from the CSUN Restauranteur Panel. It was awesome to be able to sit and talk shop with people that got me. You feel me? This is exactly why community over competition is something I live by. Doing this on your own is impossible. But that’s for another day. Anyway our first lunch was a Tatang’s in North Hollywood and there were 4 of us.
 
Rayson (Eat Play Move LA), Kristine (Creme Caramel LA), Caroline (Caroline Adobo), and Me at Tatang Noho
Kristine of Creme Caramel LA was gracious enough to organize another lunch and this time there were 9 of us! Some of us had met previously, but some of us hadn’t met yet. But we all “knew of” each other. It’s really great to finally put that Instagram handle to a real name and a face! 😆 
 
We had lunch at the newly opened Paramount Coffee Project at the Row in Downtown LA. It’s owned by a fellow Filipino-American entrepreneur and executive chef Ria Barbosa. It was so great to meet more fellow entrepreneurs, just talk about anything, and not feel in competition with anyone. I’m excited for this community of people that is coming together. Plus, check out that view!
 
Rayson (Eat Play Move LA), Justin (Benaddictz), Me, Mo (Kindness and Mischief), Kristine and Sean (Creme Caramel LA), Jella (Honey My Heart), Chiho (Tatang), Caroline (Caroline Adobo), and Anna Marie (SIPA/AM Wellness)
Til the next one!
xoxo,
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When Someone Makes an Impact – Anthony Bourdain

I get shaken every time I get reminded of the mental issues that are plaguing our world. Whether it’s you, someone you know, or not, the issues of depression, suicide, and mental illness are difficult things to hear and talk about. There are people out there, hurting, feeling alone, and hopeless. There are an average of 123 suicides per day in the US, according to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. And in just a matter of days, 2 individuals have reminded us that even wealth, affluence, adventure, and inspiration can’t hide from the dark shadows. My heart is overcome with sadness.
 
You know how there are people that you just want to have the pleasure of meeting in your lifetime? Someone you look up to, admire, inspires you. Someone that you know is the real deal, is just so unapologetically themselves. I have a long list of people that I hope to meet one day. Some have passed away and some are still living — Anthony Bourdain was one of those people on my list.
 
Photo: Getty Images
I respect the man; for his brutal honestly, his contribution to the food industry, his “don’t give a shit imma do me” attitude, his approach on other cultures, and the way he inspired us to approach other cultures with an open mind instead of a judgemental one. He appreciated food in a way that a lot of people don’t. He loved finer foods as well as simple home style cooking.He understood that food was much more to all of us.
 
I don’t know him. Heck, I don’t even know someone that knows him. But one of my life goals was to meet Anthony Bourdain one day and have him taste one of our dishes. He was a hero for us food underdogs. He gave us hope that there are people out there that were outside of our own culture that could appreciate what we had to offer. Even us, a small little family restaurant. It’s almost like he made the “mom and pop shops” cool. The idea of him walking into our little business like you see on his show. Sitting down and eating at one of our tables. I knew it probably would never happen, but there was a glimmer of hope that it could. That little glimmer was enough to make it possible. Until last Friday when the news hit.
 
I was saddened by the news that day, but even to this day I’m still effected by it in a way that I didn’t think it would.  I thought it would pass. I know I’ve never met him, I guess I just admired him so much and saw in him things I wish I had the courage to be. I wish I could’ve sat down with him over a plate of sisig and a beer and just talk about life.
 
He was himself. He wasn’t afraid to tell it like it is. We thought that he was living a life that so many of us wanted. The ability to travel the world, experience new things and cultures, and eat great food while getting paid for it! But there were obviously things that us fans didn’t see. Maybe he felt alone during his travels. Maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe there were demons that were hard for him to battle. Maybe there’s more to it than the media wants us to know. I don’t know. None of us will ever truly know how he felt, what he saw, and what really happened.
 
What I do know is how he inspired me. He inspired me then, and he inspires me now. He inspires me to embrace the road that I’m traveling – the good and the bad. He inspires me to be honest with myself – brutally honest. He inspires me to tell my story and not be afraid of being judged. He inspires me to be myself and never be tempted to hide who I am. Most of all, he inspires me to embrace other cultures, show them respect and love because you never know the battle that they might be fighting.
 
Rest In Peace, Mr. Bourdain. Us fans are shaken as we thought there was so much more that we could learn from you.  Thank you for everything you’ve done for our industry, world, and culture.
 
xoxo,
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