The Los Angeles Food Scene – Part 1

Note: This was originally going to start off as a single post but realized that I had a lot more to say on the topic that I thought lol! So stay tuned for a part 2 of this multi-part series coming soon!
First off, I have to give it up to the AAPI over at CSUN that hosted the Restauranteur Panel called Home Cooked. I know it was a while ago, but it has ignited something in me that I didn’t know was there. Not only did I get to share some of my knowledge with the attendees but I actually learned a lot about myself too. Turns out, I have opinions lol!
One of the big topics at the panel was the LA food scene and how it has evolved in the recent years. TBH, I never thought of myself as someone that can comment on this topic. I guess because I’m a little suburban business owner I felt like I didn’t have credibility to really say anything. But when I was asked I, surprisingly, had a lot of say about it. But before I talk about the state of our current food scene I feel like I need to give you a little bit of back story to validate my approach and create relevance as to why we are where we are today with food.
LA has changed a lot over the last 10 years
Ninong’s started in a really “weird” time in LA’s socio-economic history. October of 2008 was the beginning of the “Great Recession” and people were losing their jobs, my family members included. It was a time of uncertainty for many of us, yet here we were putting all our money and time into a family business that wouldn’t be cheap to start up. Some might say we were a little crazy to even think about taking on this undertaking.
Approaching our grand opening on October 11th in 2008 many businesses were closing down. Business big and small were shutting their doors. Many other businesses that were embarking on the same journey as we were closed down before they could even officially open. Others were open for a matter of weeks or months before they had to stop operations. Others hung in there for a few years but were unable to fight through it. It was a really tough time to be a business owner. It was hard to see our fellow entrepreneurs not opening their doors the next day. We barely scraped by during that time. We clawed through and did what we could to survive. There were a lot of days where we didn’t have enough. We would wonder where we would get the money to pay for the expenses,. But the bright light to this part of the story is years went by and, slowly and steadily, things started to look up, and it began to change.
Over the last 10 years I’ve observed something about my fellow restaurant and small business owners – their resilience even in the face of defeat. To be a business owner, especially in the last 10 years, you have to be really savvy to get through that time. You’ve got to want it and be willing to work tirelessly for it. You have to adapt, make it work, and have a resilience about you. Especially when you had days like we had. You’ve got to have something special to survive. I feel like the evolution of the Los Angeles food scene has really transformed because of the basis of this idea and what Los Angeles went through during that time.
More on this in Part 2 of the series coming soon!
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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.
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