Monday, June 1, 2020 - Dignified Hospitality - Vendors & Supply Chain

Video Subtitles:

hey we have Jeff Larson from here in Las
Vegas and Mike Ortiz from Miami Florida
are you guys doing today
great great gonna be mo yeah it's a
difficult day it's all I can say it you
can be honest you can be honest be
better right so yeah the conversation
today is you know definitely not going
to be all positive you know we'll
definitely have to talk about some some
negative things but ultimately my goal
with everything I do in life is to turn
things positive right so you know this
conversation will end up positive and
what we're talking about today is this
theme of dignified hospitality that I've
been talking about and this is just you
know a restaurant is a street with
respect and dignity for for all pieces
involved and last week I had a couple of
veteran you know fine dining servers
that I was speaking with that we're
talking about their perspective about
where the industry was in the past's and
where it is currently as we're starting
to reopen after the film I don't know
stay at home waters are locked down or
whatever you know you called it but you
know and and that was a pretty pretty
bleak conversation about ultimately it
was about the lack of dignity to the
career of working in the restaurant
industry like I've been needing to know
to know what the career in the
perception the public's perception of
the career of being a server that that
ended up being the the you know kind of
end of the conversation and the
important point that we got to but today
I'm talking with you guys you guys have
a lot of experience with being vendors
to the restaurant industry and so that's
gonna allow us to talk a lot more about
the supply chain and and so here we're
not talking so much about service staff
we can talk about you know all the
people involved in the supply chain of
the restaurant industry what were
challenges they were facing before
pandemic which you know it wasn't all
rainbows and butterflies before it right
you know as we know what the tea
industry and all the work that we do to
advocate for for a you know tea labor
and all that but also you know what what
are the things that we're dealing with
right now like with the response and the
pandemic and then you know what we can
do for the future to bring more dignity
to the supply chain so um yeah I guess
before getting started out Jeff do you
want to just give a little introduction
to your experience with these topics
before we we start diving deep into them
actually originated starting in the
restaurant side of it so everywhere from
being a server to be GM and actually
owning my own restaurant and I've also
helped build companies like local
company called mikuni wild harvest I
went in there and we just make it about
ten times bigger with nine years selling
my clients to all the chefs in town you
know I don't like to do with some of the
supply chain stuff especially finding
new products I'm bringing amend chefs
request and then recently I took over as
VP of Sales and Marketing for a company
called newly tree syrups which you'll
fall in love with obviously and it's a
it's a very organic great way of part of
see the forest and Michael was that he
was a doctor at Cornell University took
over the Mabley program he tested all
the trees so you know finding out
there's quite a few products out there
that you can make from tree sap and
you said it's called new leaf tree sap
priests ropes so it's alright yeah so
the four summers I never heard that part
the poorest farmers is like a parent
company for kisi dude they do more than
just a maple leaf market so the
mid-length does this newly tree syrup is
actually the syrups they do forest
conservation and you know they actually
have families and camp meet and all that
and so they're just right at the we've
actually got a great shop or people come
in and see how it's done cool yeah I
know I attest your product is awesome
I'm a big fan I'm constantly you know
finding ways to cook with your syrups
and get the word out and get people
excited about it including like on an
industrial level to you know not just
like consumer or restaurant level but
like ready to drink like you know we do
a lot of you know tea service for
ready-to-drink companies and they always
you know go for the high fructose corn
syrup or even cane sugar that's the
healthy option but I think even like
your products could step up to quality
you know so so much better than mother
nature like we're not hurting trees or
killing trees I mean Maple Lane is
actually a natural process that's free
we do anyways because you know trees
like in the summertime they bring in all
the oh the energy for themselves and
then we're here to gets cold that's what
they say starches that are in the tree
and the sugar mine eating it
so at the end of the year like when
spraying and all that comes they would
naturally let the syrup out in the south
anyways I had no idea these
Mother Nature's troops way of making
sure it doesn't hurt anything you're not
killing anything Sugar's nice but you
know they tear it up and killed
everything that lives there it's not
really eco-friendly as far as the actual
landscape goes mmm cool
so Mike do you want to give a little
intro to to your experience in the
restaurant industry and what you're
currently working on
yeah sure so I founded a small team
company called George ot back in 2011 we
I was introduced in C at a little
Buddhist temple and started doing old
booty and got obsessed with tanks and
tea and then got progressively more and
more frustrated and not being able to
find I'm gonna this is a little there we
I got progressively frustrated and not
being able to find a good tea anywhere
you know so so I decided I would try and
stellitita buddies of mine and sell tea
to my friends and then and then the
little restaurant gave me an opportunity
to sell tea there and then I just found
that I could by working with restaurants
I could have a much bigger cultural
impact you know I could introduce good
tea to more people more quickly and you
know and but when I started the company
I didn't even know what an invoice was
you know
vendor your priority number 999 for a
restaurant owner you know I mean if he
doesn't have butter
he doesn't have meat it doesn't have you
know that's priority is number one to
whatever you know so so as far as
vendors go I think that it's like it's
interesting because like service has
always been kind of like integrated into
it because if you don't have that
attitude of service or like I'm a
romantic poetic right and I feel like I
I feel like there I have like a certain
duty to tea and that's just what it is I
feel like I feel like I have a duty to
our culture and pettite to both of them
right to kind of help introduce you to
them to each other as much as possible
and because I feel like when people had
tea together they feel likes and they
have a moment of peace and they don't
you know get hung up on the things that
that they don't have in common you know
because that moment of the but anyway
since it was a cultural mission I went
into it understanding that I was going
to be treated like shit you know because
the restaurant industry is so difficult
you know the restaurant industry and I
mean maybe difficult is kind of an
oversimplification the restaurant
industry is complex and manifold and
there are many moving parts that you
need to juggle you know and it takes a
lot of focus in order to do that and in
order to change any of it there that
takes a little that takes effort you
know and so and tea is not a priority in
our in our in our culture you know so so
like one man recognized that it made it
a lot easier to pitch to as many
restaurants as possible and just go
pitch for pitch for pitch but you know
what I mean and then we have over 300
accounts so we've been able to get some
you know hotels and restaurants and even
country clubs you know we've gotten some
pretty interesting about you know
teaching them but also showing them the
work Siderius ENT batteries and it's a
story that I think sells everything
mm-hmm yeah yeah exactly you got that
and it's a story that's the difference
you know between it's like like I figure
that's part of the richness of tea
that's what makes it kind of easy to
sell the tea salesman is that like
there's so much to choose from there's
some from if somebody wants like the
rich and the expensive and the creamy
and if somebody wants the funky and it's
a stanky and if somebody wants the crisp
and the sweet you know like there's and
if somebody wants the ancient of the
mysterious there's like all these
different it's like okay you know it's
all there you know there's so much depth
that the more we don't see the better we
can kind of like play with those you
know you know I like I was upon you know
like like it took me six months to
convince myself to start selling like
pyramid teabags because I wanted only do
a loose leaf tea you know it's like and
like it took me years before I like
before I agreed to let bars make
cocktails out of my team and like tastes
the way that it's affected the flavor
profile of the cocktail like the way
that's gonna educate the palate of the
people drinking it it's like so exciting
yeah you know yeah so like a but I think
it's also like it takes time you know it
took me time anyway to like to to learn
to be flexible and to learn to like not
be so stubborn about what I wanted to
present and what I wanted my brand to
mean and what I wanted the identity of
the brand to be and the way that people
would be introduced to the product you
know it's like I think
you know yeah you know that was the door
when was that because I feel like the
mushroom market has like exponentially
in the last you know yeah my could you
imagine if chefs came to us and was like
hey I'm with the San Francisco and I had
dong cow and I had me long
you know yeah it's like you know New
York that's good you know relationship
yeah I what we do is a little different
I consider myself lucky enough to work
with the leaves you know yeah I think
that like yeah we because we do work
with bigger farms as well but we are
honestly like and have been on a mission
of transitioning all of it to you know
it's a fully with the fully organic
farms for example you know yes I started
my company yeah I started my company
with $2,000 so to build it up you know
like like but now you know what but the
exciting thing is that as we grow our
buying power grows and our as our volume
grows now all of a sudden instead of
having to buy from big distributors we
can build direct to the farm in fact
like at least helped us put together a
customized blend with with heritage tea
and with
howdy Olie yeah yeah yeah yo no but for
the morning-after blend in particular we
did like an English breakfast blend of
made out of a Assam peko and baby amber
red for virgin cruise lines and you know
because we do a blend for a cruise line
there's like volume in it you know yeah
so then we you know it's like man that's
that's when the dream comes true when
the mission becomes possible actually
like support these small farms directly
it's it's a mmm like em my friendship
with Elise has made that possible so
like you know I first off I thank ELISA
honor ELISA I respect them it's
like all single origin small grower
product getting onto a cruise ship yeah
I mean we'll see what the cruise
industry looks like after the you know
once once where once the lockdowns in
there they were supposed to open April
1st and they're opening now they're
planning on opening pretty scary though
turns on a cruise ship are pretty scary
you know that's like a big thing on most
yeah any kind you know so it's cool we
talked about you know kind of the sexy
side of our business which is you know
presenting to chefs and getting our
products presented in the restaurants
and I'm sure we could have fun talking
about that all day but today what I
wanted to talk about was more to do with
the other side of our business
like the supply chain and like where our
products coming from and in the context
of what we're dealing with right now is
kind of resilience you know of how do we
deal with this and you know Jeff you
recommended that I watch Bill Marsh
recent show he had Tom Colicchio as the
guy the guy from chef yes strip steak
locally and the others really
high-profile and you know he took his
time on his show not so much to talk
about his own restaurants and his own
plan of how he's gonna open his his
viewpoint was very pessimistic not only
about you know how we're gonna be able
to open but he did give a lot of
attention talking about the supply chain
which is really good because a lot of
chefs aren't talking about that they're
not talking about how the supply chain
was kind of turned upside down and when
he closed the restaurant industry it
completely you know changed the
distribution of how our food gets around
and I mean it collapsed and basically
collapse the supply chain if you really
think about it I mean I mean what they
click he'll mention on there was you
know cattle being killed for no reason
and milk supplies just being done
because colleges and then send over to
restaurants that kind of stuff and of a
second you can't all goes away so it's
really not to demean and beef industry
right now it's a prime example of like a
collapse like system road whatever in
America and the ones that have survived
as far as slaughterhouses and the
Chinese so we really we really have
stepped into it as and so America but
just as all the way down the line things
have totally changed before all this got
started there was a big
take over out there police you saw a lot
of it here in Vegas where I like the MT
MS on the sea of the world which is
where house has their own fishery that
they just bought you know you've got all
the other so it's really a lot of
companies like mine but from the smaller
boats and the smaller fishermen and
Stephanie kept them alive so you're
really screwed down the line when year
as well fishermen and that's what you
did no it's like oh the big corporate
guys they just don't pay as well you
know these almost they're not
necessarily interested in just like a
book that goes like add a book that goes
out that's helped me with my 14 days you
know you're out there catching helping
for 14 days just put the ones on the
bottom look like you know it's fresh
you're not going to have any quality and
it's just you know I mean small business
is amiss
a trend that I've been reading about in
several articles about chefs simplifying
you know their menus so how is that
going to affect you know what you
predict Jeff in your business do you
think that you know tree syrups unique
tree syrups are gonna are gonna get the
cut and not you know not beyond that
simplified menu
you know we pick something really really
smart I think as soon as the like as
soon as we saw what was going on in and
we saw that there were some shipping
delays we placed some orders and then in
Chinese New Year in particular we placed
a bunch of orders I mean we ordered a
bunch of tea because we figured that
there would be shipping delays so we
needed to get as much inventory on hand
as possible so we got I mean enough tea
for like a year
yeah and then all of our clients
situation where you know it does have a
long shelf life if it's stored well you
know imagine doing that with something
that that did have a shelf life oh man
that would be such a nightmare or you
know even the animals hearing hearing
about these like these ranchers that are
having to slaughter their animals
because they're too much of resource
suck and they're not you know worth
anything in the market so literally you
know having to kill and just waste your
your you know your whole life's work is
so heartbreaking yeah when I start
breaking in the way that you know and
things the government you should I don't
agree on the
if they would have helped a little bit
those animals have been slaughtered and
second families and that kind of you
know but it's you know state level you
can get them to agree to it but it takes
federal money to do programs like that
so to react to that so a lot of these
animals were killed just so that
something to take off like this you're
wasting food like that cleanse like we
stopped there we're freezers so that's
the part I didn't understand like you
can freeze the meat like you know one of
the Packers I guess just don't have
those yeah when a system is so
centralized and so you know base on a
certain you know system and then that
gets turned it's it's really hard to
make changes so I mean I guess it's if
you guys agree with me is it safe to say
that the centralized corporate system is
less resilient than the small-scale of
course you know it's like it's like it's
like you know like on yeah I'm like it
makes me think of like Andre the Giant
trying to fight against like a
six-year-old kid like and the
six-year-old kid is like it's like just
like nimbleness great like I'd like to
weaken the more monolithic the less
agile you know it's impossible for these
monolithic I'm like the difficult thing
right is that like the the whole like
food industry did beat America it did
change the world it did you know what I
mean it did like it did like it did
change the world in the 1800's you know
what I mean like it did it didn't
represent it like the industrialized
food system did have a purpose I think
that it's important to remember that
like there is some good to some red
available food everywhere right and it's
like you know yeah it's just quick and
convenient and available period there's
some good to that right but but it's
like but it but it's so it's so out of
balance now I mean it's so out of
balance that it's unjustifiable it's
like it it's not like it and and and it
makes the benefits of that like food
industry of the industrial food system
almost like it makes you it makes you
want to hold it in contempt you know
what I mean it makes you wanna like it
makes you like it makes me I should say
it makes me want to hold it in contempt
it makes me not trust it it makes me
like it's you know like it makes this go
the bad guy no matter what organic
vegetables yeah I mean the police's and
all the other things they taking
nutrients out because of the way they
grow so like different so you're not
giving nutrients or not only good stuff
just because they you have that stuff
going in your stomach and this I mean
just for health purposes I mean it's
chilling your bacteria conversation I
mean first supply I mean it's really
it's like you said that you know the
smaller guys are there but guess what's
gonna happen we're all this comes back
those smaller guys really aren't gonna
be there so you're not gonna have like
the mclees or some of these other small
fishermen or small things I mean they're
not getting the government money at the
end of this the preparation is why you
have heard nothing with corporations is
because guess what the government's
gonna bail them out again I mean they're
you know this place even though so it's
just our system in a hole is not for the
little guy you know that's where we're
gonna lose 40 percent of the restaurant
we think about that forty percent of the
that's I mean that's a lot I mean
restaurants in your city that is your
city that's a place where we all set out
a meeting we all have great
conversations and we you know that's
where we can connect so it's just it's
fine didn't devastate you know like one
of the most famous restaurants and Oh
Axl Rose some rice trips guys are
holding you know they're struggling like
hell you know they were trying to keep
them staff paid and all that fun stuff
and you know when you only get 50%
occupancy guess what else are you doing
you know we get back as quickly as
and we get these restaurants filled up
again because not you know we can learn
learn lose the whole system except from
the courts so it's a kind of stuff those
restaurants are also on the line too
because their supply chains are also
threatened as well you know so it's it's
not just the mom-and-pop Center that are
at risk and I also want to remind us
that restaurants were closing down even
before the pandemic you know that was an
issue even before pandemics so well
restaurants I mean for an investment
over there probably one of the roughest
in investments you can make out there
I'm a typical restaurant to be making
five to ten percent a year you're you're
really doing it right you know there's
just so many things I can go wrong I
mean you know you get one bad review you
can destroy your reputation you know
that's gonna be a big runner
they don't know any of you about the
business part of it so you know I've
consulted with restaurants where you go
in and you know they're just numbers
well you know who's doing well and who's
not see the guys are filling the
restaurant usually within the first
three to six months who's gonna make it
a news not you know yeah it's an eye for
detail the restaurants probably one of
those industries where it's just such an
eye for detail and you know you can't
let stuff slip you can't miss cleaning
like what are dining rooms in Vegas
looking like right now Miami just opened
up like like last Wednesday afternoon
you know what I'm saying and like uh and
there are some restaurants that that
look just the same as before cold you
know yeah and then there are other
restaurants that the tables are really
separated and until this week you can
only have five people in cuz govern
around here just swing to phase two but
you know you guys have been open for a
while already right yeah a couple weeks
just a couple weeks I mean and a lot of
restaurants out here actually started
doing stuff like you know I know the
stokke didn't James and Esther's and I
think Brian good one over is feral wolf
the day they were doing these general
companies basically they give you
everything to cook at home and then the
show for teach you how to cook I know
cure that language doing cheese and wine
Salani guys really adopted fast and
impacting stuff and now that they're
open again they're still continuing that
because it's I mean to go industry took
permanently I was a testers the other
day when I walked in there and they
literally at 5 o'clock at 1/4 full of
just to go people are still scared to go
to the restaurant the restaurant eating
everything six feet apart you're not
allowed to sit at the bar counter areas
and you know it so it separated but
they're being smart about it how they're
turning their tables and all that stuff
I mean in the one thing restaurants are
really kind of scary is that you know
your waiter is in his gonna mess you got
the smell of sanitation all over the
place of all the strong smells and it's
sweep yes part of a waiter is their
personality where they give you and when
you got somebody on a mask even see
their pretty smile you don't see their
personality you don't see their charm
Syme Afton is hurting chips for waiters
and all that stuff to noise so it's just
it's not the series you try a Parisian
thank you so same experience but you
know it's just isn't with the mask and
so on is this not so
now I mean that's the whole part of
going to restaurants liquor that's why
you're sitting there k be extra money
for that meal and you know furniture was
gone yeah talking with us on with a mask
on you know I'm I'm not too closely
friends with too many chefs other than
Sheridan and Jenny and and they just
recently reopened every green for for
take-out only but I am friends with a
lot of people that that work that serves
and yes I've been asking them about
their perspective on it and yes they
want to get back to work like we're all
stir-crazy late we
want some some purpose and thing to do
and so that's what's motivated them to
go back but the overall consensus that
I've heard so far is that the work
environment has become more toxic than
it was before and it was already pretty
toxic really because management in the
chef's there's their stress the fuck out
because they're all working they're you
know they're working more hours they're
probably they probably took a salary cut
and they're working within these
constrictions that are super stressful
and then staff comes in and they're
already yelling and inviting people's
head off from the moment staff comes in
and then staff is all in their mask all
day and they're like getting faint by
the end of the day and a staff is also
taking pay cuts so this is like I've
been seeing this online kitchens even
like the most high-profile independent
kitchens here in town are like rotating
through kitchen staff like crazy right
now because their original staff they're
not coming back right this is a trend
I've heard because you know they're
they're being offered their job back but
then on a lower pay and they're getting
paid far more on unemployment so they
say no and then you know they're having
to like hire new staff and train them
and you know it's gonna be lower quality
work because you know the pay is lower
just because of the numbers right now so
it is it's it's it's a stressful
situation but the one good thing I have
heard consensus wise is that the
customers are good right now because
they're just so grateful to be out
dining and having that experience so
people are being really polite really
nice and the people that are going out
to dine are part of the community that
aren't afraid of you know Kovan so you
know they're more relaxed or more chill
with it they probably don't like the
smell of sanitation in this pace but you
know they're more chill and they're
tipping really well that's what I've
heard people are to be really well and
that's what I was afraid of I'm like if
you're at 50% capacity not only is that
50% revenue but that's 50
tips and and and service staff like
their whole livelihood is on the tips so
if you're a bartender you're only
serving the diner at all
but it's not necessarily 50% tips for
the server's because like you know it
for example if I have a restaurant that
has 40 tables right then I need 10
servers but then now I only have 20
tables so now I only need 5 servers
these are things and then they can end
that they still have the same amount of
tables there's a bit like damn now that
I think about it I'm regretting but I
think that equation that you just
brought up Mike is it's a little bit
different now because there is
additional need for staff because of all
the extra sanitation and extra steps
that have to go into you know the new
protocols so it's not an exact you know
way shit like what you said you want to
know the one thing that scares me the
most is that going through the phases
right so you got 1 2 3 & 4
guess what never goes away on any of
them yep this is he remains the whole
time so I mean you know people catch
colds and do that all the time and yeah
cause it had its name Vince I mean I
hope that the numbers that are starting
to come in stay true because it really
shows this was kind of a flu but we will
see in the future but I mean at some
point people like contact I'm a hugger
it really sucks you know I got friends
I'm still hugging don't get me wrong but
you know you just not
you know the second round doesn't come
and we can get back to normal last night
from somebody that's a data scientist
involved with Wieck Ovid and he was
saying that actually the the riots the
protests going on right now will could
potentially give us a big spike that
would actually distract from a second
wave happening so that's kind of a
silver lining of a big spike happening
right now due to you know that situation
that could help us avoid from a second
wave you know but hopefully as a country
we come together that's going to
recuperate the same I mean it's all
gonna come back corporate and you're
just not gonna have a lot of the choices
that we always have before you know I
think it's definitely going to be like I
think it's definitely going to be
less you know what I mean I think that
like it's crazy to think like that
before Ovid you know the conversation
was how difficult it was to be a small
vendor for restaurants and it's crazy to
really dig the truth that that it's
gonna be a lot harder but I think that
but it's still gonna be possible at the
end of the day because there's always
gonna be small restaurants there's
always gonna be there's always gonna be
chief real estate available there's
always gonna be a space that used to be
a restaurant that is looking desperately
for somebody to fill it and there's
gonna be somebody else that that's
interested in opening a restaurant
there's always gonna be this is but it's
certainly gonna be smaller and it was
anyway and and the whole story was how
difficult it was before this and now
it's gonna be even more difficult so so
I guess that makes me think of like the
the importance of mental health support
for the restaurant industry like Bolivia
again before it was already it was
already important now it's gonna be like
it's gonna be cut through you know six
seven eight nine months stressed out
when they come back you know might be a
little mentally unstable everybody and
it's already there's been more suicides
than there actually has with her victims
so there was two sides I always look at
this and I just we just nobody just so
jumped on the bug that they just skipped
everything else you know officially last
week more suicides in the
so yet to your point Jeff that's the
small guys the small businesses are not
going to survive this
okay let's i need lip slit easily yeah
let's accept that that's that's cool I
can accept that so the businesses won't
survive but the the people that are
passionate about craft and that includes
service industry employees that like no
longer have work and are sitting at home
still with just passion to serve and
this passion to you know share good food
and artisanal craft and then the farmers
that you know and the soil and the
plants like that stuff is still going to
be there too even though the businesses
are gone so what I want to try to
envision is what can we be done with
that what you know what kind of
resilient programs could be outlined in
a manifesto to give these folks
direction including the government
direction of how to support these
systems and support these folks to
create value utilizing their their
passion you know and an idea that I have
and I'm gonna open up to you guys to
kind of talk your dreams on it but my
idea is street food I mean I have so
many friends that are like servers or
bartenders and they would love to just
have their own little like small-scale
thing even out of their own kitchen and
just like share food with people with a
very low overhead and like make really
good artisanal high quality craft but of
course the government and the food code
and all that does not allow for that so
it would definitely require some
legislation and you know that'll be part
of this manifesto but I'd love to hear
from you guys like what what you
envision could be done with all of that
value and effort that's still gonna be
left after this kollene of the
businesses you know I think it's a great
opportunity for America to go back to
the old days a little bit I think like
you said the artisanal guys I mean it
seems even before this happened I
thought there was a great like a lot of
specialty guys coming back like
specialty butchers and you know when
farmers that care and all that is it's
making I see the God
crazy the government what do you guys
think I don't know you know I'm thinking
about it like I think about all the
like I think silly Maya in Miami right
there's you know that's where I come
from and that's where I work so that's
my frame of reference and within Miami
there's a really kick-ass amazing
community of food artisans of coffee
roasters of Baker's butchers of corn
grinders and taco makers you know
they're tumbling maker they're just
amazing you know chefs and bartenders
and mixology dollars right and I think
about like I'm like thinking out loud
because it because it cuz I you know I I
truthfully these hadn't really thought
of that like and it's a big question
you know how can how can we all together
is it like maybe like to create a union
you know that's an informal community I
mean like a formal Union so that you
know and I don't know for example like
even just like a formal Union to help
food artisans have access to help I mean
something like that I think you know
maybe that could I think that is a good
idea you know it I think that is a good
idea and I hadn't and I'm gonna continue
to think about this because I think that
that's that it's a really I think that
like cuz it cuz it's like it's like you
say just like like there is this
wonderful community right and we and
like I'm me too like my
opening up a restaurant I give it a show
even like somebody a friend's friend is
opening a restaurant I give it a shower
then the head ice you don't send love
right with the insurance is like he's
getting them to go into groove you know
singing group insurance rates instead of
being stuck you know like the
independents you know so but there's
also it's like there's also just by the
nature of capitalism right there and
there's a competition you know what I
so I think that there's like as
wonderful as the community is there is
at the same time an inherent kind of
like competition you know and I said
it's like to figure out it to figure out
how to how to figure out how to create
collective power within that I think
will be really beneficial to that to
this to this movement naturally even
done love and all that says there's
plenty of business out there for
everyone so it's not necessarily a
competition so when you join forces like
some of the local chefs here have they
push each other's restaurants because
they're I'm saying there's a lot of
public out there and they all need a
good place to eat right so I think it's
competition that you want to be them to
have the best plate or you want to have
the best food and yes you are trying to
drive him to make mine better that's
kind of the American mind sentence that
we need to get away from that narrative
it's in politics it's in every city and
we need to get more to so we get back to
the feel-good and talking great about
our friends and all that I think the
change is the parameters on every good I
think you know yeah there's competition
years you know when you're doing a chef
you know like great chefs everywhere
when I would eat it everybody's place I
don't want you know I mean I've got a
couple right go more but you know what I
mean I've got one that's telling my
tears you know I still go everywhere
else and I think it's great to see the
talents of and everybody into always
positively think just that's where my
mind sets convalesce years or so help
everybody on their journey and I think
if we do that again as a society and
quit this oh my god we got to put this
guy down to make me look thinner because
I'm so red no self-confidence so I gotta
put him down make myself feel better
right we have to get away from now
mentality as a nation we have to go back
to every American is awesome and they
have the lights of work so Mike to your
point about the unions there are two
like coalition's there are not official
unions one of them is you know kind of
on a path to look like it could evolve
into a union but the other one is the
restaurants coalition and that's the one
that's really doing all the aggressive
lobbying right now and they've been
successful so that was the guy on on
Bill Maher the other night he was
talking about how the they have extended
the PPP loans to be longer for
restaurants and that they're lobbying
for you know more relief like bailout
relief for the restaurants that is that
is like the independent restaurants
coalition and they're just like
advocating for restaurant industry not
for the workers necessarily before the
restaurant industry but supporting the
workers and then there's another
coalition that I just learned about
that's for workers
it was a it was founded by a group of
like really established veteran you know
service members one of them ran the the
and I actually uh Mike I learned this
from Stefan's podcast which I've been
like listening to like crazy since you
told me about it
he was one of the interviewees like from
last year he ran the cocktail program
for the Momofuku group for like eight
years and and he was talking about how
supportive that environment was for his
career and how dignifying you know his
time there was and that he wants to
extend that opportunity for other
workers in the industry but it's not a
union just yet and like one of the main
platforms that they're trying to
implement and kind of plant seeds in the
community and the you know the overall
perception of the industry is like
getting rid of the tipping system you
know which that that tends to be you
know a big issue for workers but my
observation on both of these
organizations is that it's great to see
the movement in the conversation and the
initiative to do something but both of
those organizations are working within
the same context so that of we need to
support the current way that restaurants
work and what I like to challenge to
that initiative is like let's think
bigger like let's like restructure
everything and and say okay you know
this this was good about that and that's
good about that and kind of
restructuring the whole way that
prepared food gets distributed and do it
in a way where we can fucking get rid of
the fast-food right cuz that's that's
ultimately what we're competing with
right like the corporate things that you
guys are saying that you know ultimately
you know survive over the the small
business so you know I think thinking of
outside of just the formal dining
restaurant experience and that's why I
always say Street food cuz Street food
is such a great example and like we're
the only friggin country in the world
that doesn't have it and I think that
plays a big problem and why our food
system is the way it is you know some of
the best meals that I've had with the
best ingredients the freshest best in
we're like just prepared in some lady's
house you know when I was living in the
Caribbean and like you know I just paid
ten bucks for a nice plate of her food
and it supported her and it supported
you know all the farmers as she bought
her stuff from and then of course the
customers got really great food but you
know our current system here and all the
legislation does not allow for that and
does not support that so places up you
go to Portland Washington even down
south and why this is all been going on
you know a lot of chefs have been doing
this stuff like Robert lomi just had one
yesterday in his house where he as a
concept he wants to do so yeah two or
three dogs will talk to have some cool
vegetables like this cactus that was
just outstanding but it's like you know
everybody's house and they picked enough
to go where you set down there maybe
right there
so there I mean you're right there does
seem to be a big I'm starting to see a
big thing we're doing a lot of chefs are
doing that you know are you doing more
the informal you know trucks or whatever
they have to do those food stalls in
Portland they still have a very high
operating cost to maintain to legally
maintain that you know for affordable
street food that's you know prepared
mindfully and within a certain sanitary
code you know that's what we have to
figure out right cuz I I talked to my
mom about it my mom's like oh that's
only a great idea but everybody's gonna
get sick cuz street foods dirty
Singapore but there's a guy who was
making street food for like 30 40 years
he says you just gotta fight we go one
star Michelin yeah that's a Singapore
and now
yeah yeah and you know I think that
plays a big role in why their food
systems are so much more resilient than
ours I spoke about about Street food and
you know yeah you were telling me about
how you know about how cooking the food
streets I'd actually like you know
cleans off anything and then beyond that
as long as you're working with clean
food and you know from the from the go
you know that everything's gonna be fine
and then fresh and and as long as it's
fresh rather and I hadn't really thought
of that like I didn't think I never
thought of the benefit of having streets
you know so yeah I think it's it's a
it's just it's not something that people
tend to think about as a solution but I
think that it seems it's it's it's so
it's such an interesting thing because
like them like you know I think about
like like you ginger you know being in
Taipei and going on a night markets that
like and that the whole city is there
you know like in Jing Hong and you then
there is night market the whole city is
there you know in Chongqing Chengdu the
whole city is there and eating and out
you know it's like and they're doing
something that's you know like right
like again like in Miami it's like we
have like the the night clubs and the
bars and like and the strip clubs like
the Nets like what we're known for you
know so people are getting together at
night but they're not remembering it the
next morning you know and and if there's
a place where people can commune and not
you know and not have to deal with like
you know coke head punching you in the
mouth because you stepped on their foot
yeah like you know it's like if
everyone's just eating and happy you
know it that could that could have
really wonderful repercussions for the
culture you know and that's it
yeah we're done yeah yeah I don't know
like the whole night market thing
because like that's even up in question
now if if the NARC markets are going to
you know come back immediately just
because of all of the close contact and
gathering of people but you know I'm
thinking of just even street food on a
level of anti downing up yeah you know
is has a big pot of beans that she
cooked all day we came for fifty cents
go and buy buy a bowl of it you know
you're hungry and Aunty can sell you
know fifty bowls of of are not fifty but
maybe two hundred bowls of beans of the
day and make enough money to you know
you know just bring some autonomy and
some dignity to herself you know that
level you know or even someone that's
out of work I survey that's ought to
work I have so many friends that you
know are out of work right now they work
in the food industry and they just love
food and they cook really great food and
but you know they couldn't even dream
about opening a restaurant or even a
food truck because you got to have like
150 thousand dollars at least like set
everything up and make sure all your
licenses are right and you know you're
at the processing facility you know
prior we have a friend from Alaska
that's been watching on Facebook and you
just commented something about your
point on unions Mike he says unions
could themselves could do themselves a
favor by getting back into training and
certification and taking that
responsibility away from the government
and some unions do but not all a lot of
them seem like self-serving ways for
organizers to make a living being
lobbyists right that's true exactly
that's true too yeah you know it's not
it's not like the making the union is
as effective as who the leadership is
absolutely yeah so yeah I mean yeah
that's why when I already say the word
Union you know here and not just here I
think in lhasa cities unions have have
always long been associated with with
organized crime and corruption
corruption type stuff so where do you
guys see the market's going 75% 80% I
think that you know I at the same time
like Miami again just opened up last
week so now the restaurants are opening
you know people that have three month
old invoices I get it I get a check in
the mail today
oh wow you know you know and like orders
are coming in from the hotels again so
it's like you know so I'm hopeful it's
like you know I had this like a I wrote
this little thing for the for this blog
called the hungry post and I had this
thought that it's like it's like you
know like like I told you like when I
started working with the restaurants I
didn't like know what the hell I was
doing and like I started getting to know
all the chefs and like I'm like at the
beginning of kovat it was like man I
knew all the chefs in Miami and all the
dining room for packed and all the food
was delicious
and it would send me free food and it
like such like a miraculous dance and
now like the music just stopped you know
and I feel like when the music comes
back on it's like it's like yeah it's
gonna be good it's gonna be fun but it
was but am right this work of it it was
it was so amazing when like the dining
rooms were packed and the bars were
packed them and everybody was you know
like it was it was just magic you know
it was what we lived for you know yeah I
feel like we were like like like we're
like the at the end of the day like to
bring it back to this like topic of
service and hospitality right I feel
like we're all losing practice or we've
all lost practice you know what I mean
like it's a practice at the end of the
day and the ones that are good at it see
it as a practice the ones that are gonna
to come back to it you know what I mean
and all those like practitioners are
just out of practice you know and I
think that that's like as a it's gonna
take not just people getting comfortable
coming back to restaurants but servers
getting back into the groove of their of
their rhythm okay working with people
and building those moments you know what
I mean - under this new context yeah I
mean you think about it takes 21 days to
create a habit dinner bags well we've
been in that habit for 90 days it is
gonna take people trusting their own
brains and it's all it's all really just
some thought process you tell yourself
it's tough you can tell yourself it's
all up to you the difference or do you
have an out right you can create your
own Italian green heaven at some point
people just have to start being positive
again they have to start thinking oh my
god like it means more to me to be
around somebody either friend
great conversations that it does to
worry about the dermis alright so we
just I mean I think the worst of the
codes over and hopefully the number is
that you know Stanford University and
some of these places have come up with
in the right direction and the design
there as bad as we quite thought it was
so hopefully that parameter starts going
out as bad as the other one did because
you know but I think that like that's
like that's something that that like
that it's important to recognize at the
same time you know it's that like as
because it's like III think that we I
think that it's important to be positive
absolutely and I think that without
being positive nothing is gonna get
better right at the same time I think
it's important to acknowledge problems
because if we don't acknowledge problems
it's impossible at Salomon I think that
in that sense it's important to
acknowledge negative things it's
important to keep a perspective you know
and I think that on on at a time like
this and the day like today I don't
think that it's fair and this is how I
feel right I don't think that it's fair
for three light-skinned people talking
about how important it is to be positive
and to make your your reality you know I
think that it's like I'm not done I'm
not trying to bring it down and I'm
trying to be negative I'm trying to
acknowledge a little bit of you know I'm
white skin with blonde hair or brown
hair blue eyes and Miami like you know I
yeah I'm Cuban but like in Miami I'm
treated like you know everybody's Cuban
in Miami so hell yeah
and I think that like and I think that
at the end of the day no matter what we
don't know how we would react to
generational oppression you know and and
we and and and because of that I just I
just want to acknowledge that and say
that you know I give everyone might feel
supported you know you still have to
remain yourself you can't can't let it
all suck it and
just stare you down I mean I think that
I think I'll climb I'm hoping the
country gets back to that direction I
mean that's all we can hope for but we
also have to be careful that we always
plant seeds I know
I mean why Swiss happened over these
last three or six months and it's it's
just a downward spiral and at some time
we've got you know you need two breaks
down we have started slowing down the
rate of pack you know the media and
society at a whole is we always look at
the bottom 10% you know I mean you know
when you like politics race relations
all it's always the outline that gets
all the headlines and that's which
derivative okay we have to remember that
the other 80% on either side of the
story are pretty mutual and pretty
loving like you know I have tons of my
friends left ransom right and I do
understand some of this stuff throughout
history it's embarrassing but if we
still keep making those outskirts the
most important thing we're just never
gonna move along as a society you know
Martin Luther King said it and even a
lot of a good leaders you know with the
different races of c'mon said look we
have to change the parameter the only
way to change now is just you know as a
nation and then people that we do that
is there's a long start children out
there people that are like more than we
probably think is so interrelated to the
conversation that we've been having this
whole time that like the people that are
going to suffer from the potato imminent
collapse of our current food system are
gonna most negatively affect the
marginalized folks which tend to be
people of color you know and it's not
just a color thing it's just
marginalized you know and a lot of
people that are marginalized tend to
have you know low value you know jobs
and food service farming jobs you know
which are on the line so you know I
think that the that thinks Mike
this up it's it's super connected and I
think if we keep that in our minds as we
have these conversations about dreaming
of like this manifesto of where food
could go you know I think ultimately
autonomy and support of that autonomy is
gonna be really important for changing
the situation for marginalized people
for people that are born into this
marginalized state you know like they
have no choice but you know my only
option of work is working in fast food
which is you know not as of right now is
not empowering like fast food stayed
open through in the United States it's
not so much even just Greeks you know
its support in general how we different
things to help people continue to grow
so we think that some point I mean
education is everything as far as our
education but I think that one thing
that's really important here and is a
challenge right is that I like I know
that I am racist you know like I know
that I grew up in a culture where the
every night the bad guy in the news was
a black man you don't everything you
know what I'm saying I know that the
other day when I found out that there
were protests going on and help some of
the protests had turned into a riot and
I was at a red light and a car came and
stopped on the side of the road and two
black guys came out I got scared and I
know that that's because I'm racist and
I know that that sucks and I know that I
hate that part of myself but if I don't
acknowledge that part of myself changing
it then and then I'm always just gonna
be pretending that it doesn't exist I'm
wondering why they're breaking windows
and that's really depressing you know
because because when other people do it
so I think that it's like yeah we need
to change as a nation but I need to
change as a person MA and and I think
that that that until we take personal
responsibility you know and that and
that means having difficult
conversations and that sucks but what's
the what's the choice like like not
having the difficult conversation is
bathing in our privilege not having the
difficult conversation is you know
Martin Luther King does more damage than
the yeah absolutely and unfortunately I
that is one of those selling in these
before we got on the phone I was like
man I'm bum man I feel angry
and you know and yeah it is what it is
you know I at the same time I'm at the
same time it is like leaves again I
thank you for giving us the opportunity
to have a conversation about dignity and
cloud service and about hospitality and
about who you know and I'm out and about
and about power Yan about the power of
connection or how we can you know and
and for inviting me to think about you
know about how we can think about how we
can actually do that and you know it is
a it is a like a that's where the change
will happen if we don't start stepping
up for even our friends people live in
fear or create resentment create
suspicion and then create tension and
make the world the shittier please just
because there
because if your great stress at all that
actually would brace your Brando which
brings yourselves o pick you consent so
if you stand if you need to buy any tea
called Jojo in Miami so I'm obviously
biased but man I you know I think I've
seen seen quite a bit of the world man
thank God Miami I can't tell you how
much I love my man it's such a unique
city it's soul Caribbean it's more like
Santo Domingo than it is like Fort
Lauderdale it's crazy it's like it's so
so vibrant and unique in its culture and
its dialect and its food and it's in its
rhythm into that area so we
walked into this random place that had
books everywhere and they had every room
and all that and this the two ladies
that were there they decided to start
singing and dancing and just seeing that
solid musical my kid was up there
dancing it was like it was just felt
free it was funny it reminded me of my
first different culture that way
everybody's happy it has these
characters you know these guys that just
in these days then these ladies that
walk up and down the streets of Little
Havana every day for the past 40 years
you know and there's a world there was a
chance to go to China you know even
bounce around the state so I'll get back
to a normal world and I go for yeah me
too man I was in China in March I think
we were gonna meet up I was gonna meet
up with yeah well I was I was the one
that hit you up like the second I heard
about what was going on woman I was like
Mike I don't think this is gonna work
you know
like if you just looked at the timeline
of containing the first round of SARS
that we had years ago you know that
period was like four months I believe so
yeah and this ended up being much worse
than that
but yeah you know if you guys have a few
more minutes there was one more thing I
didn't want to talk about Jack and that
was like related to your travels cuz
your you travel for going to like food
shows right yeah so like if those food
shows are all being canceled or you know
they're they're being turned to virtual
events or you know like how how do you
how do you think like specialty brands
like ours even if for small businesses
we have like high-value specialty
products that the you know could have a
global reach so you know if we don't
have these food events to go to like
what do you think could be you know
viable ways to stay connected with the
global industry well like on my email
every day now I'm getting invited to
like when some of these suits are being
cancelled they're having virtual
meetings so you can get on and talk to
like the vendors or different people
that you kind of so I'm seeing it going
that direction
check them out and see and then you know
so I'm also going in to see like people
I've met and friends in the end I mean
for now I see that working that way but
in the end I personally have always felt
human context better but I'm also a guy
who wants to fuck you on the phone I
don't now in the way of my character I
mean I don't know I just I like to him a
contact part that's why I do what I do
so for me it's been how this made
difficult but it's just like wow you
know where my friends are the people I'm
gonna go see and that it was it speed
but because of my said of myself it's
like I didn't get angry and it's just so
I've got a new focus or I've got a new
with something like this I think overall
I just my hope is that as vendors we all
continue to stay focused on on
supporting quality supporting the small
guy because ultimately then you know
that ties into what you brought up Mike
which is you know creating those
systemic changes to empower and mobilize
folks that you know for generations have
been marginalized so and discriminated
you know bring dignity like I just say
that's right dignity dignity I lovely to
use that word so much because it's such
a such a it's such a direct or you know
it's a word that that's difficult to
dismiss you know yeah
and it doesn't mean money like we're not
talking about money here it doesn't mean
like we need to hand out you know some
some money to them and and and pay them
is like no let's just give them respect
to give you know let us be in a state of
disappea and in most cases and most
dignified people that I've met in my
life were necessary rich you know and
they they their life wasn't revolving
around money their life was revolving
around being connected to the things
that are really important to them which
is their family their community and
their food you know you're connected and
focused on those things and and and
doing those things well dude that's the
best dignity that you can ask for you
know that's right I mean no matter of
race color how much money you make I
mean the same thing about the world is
that the happiest people for every
family means more to them you know I
think sometimes that's a lesson that we
learn for all of us ya know but but they
they have a good contact with their food
they have a good time contact with their
family and they have a good contact with
their communities that's that's the
other commonality you know people you
know poor people that have nothing to
lose that are living on fast food is
junk food you know the the happiness
there is difficult you know cuz then you
have you health problems and you know
whatever does eating junk food just
brings your energy down but you know you
blow up any lose your energy
yeah yeah so you know I don't think that
there's a there's a whole lot of
happiness and that you know and and then
you know always just having this complex
that you're not good enough and that you
know you'll never be good enough like
that's not dignity that's that's that's
the systemic problem that's you know
causing people to resort to whatever
lifestyles but you know I always pull
back from my experience when I was in
the Peace Corps and then now my
experience with these sweet farmers and
easy farmers are poor you know their
business itself probably doesn't bring
in more than twenty thousand dollars a
year but they have what they need you
know they have the healthy soil they
have water they have seeds they have you
know good environment they have their
community close to them they have their
family with them supporting each other
and there's just immense amount of
dignity and happiness there you know so
I think that like food is a great
platform for doing that because food is
community it is you know how people come
together people work together to create
value together so I think it's a really
great like focus for us and we are
ambassadors of that as you know we are
pieces of the value chain ourselves you
know and so we can use that platform to
not only support our livelihoods but you
know also make those changes towards
dignity well family meals around the
world is always the most important meal
area that's right more of that yeah you
know what we get up to is like you know
would think I mean just quit throw and
is that you know at some point hopefully
our own government and it's gonna have
to come down to everybody get out there
involve you and all that and to make the
changes is they supplement the hell I
oh yeah because the farmers are all that
and that really has to stop that these
corporations making that food which are
making people sick once keeps them in
the house I mean it's like an that
triangle there you know health care
you know I mean it just kind of like wow
so hopefully at some point America will
get smarter that's where we force the
government to quit giving supplements to
them I really supplement the organic
farmers I really supplement to small
farmers this money is going to go to the
restaurants and all the small even for
some plane hopefully people get smart
enough to do it's like five trillion
dollars a year you're going important
reforms you know that don't and you know
Ted Turner is like one of the top
collectors of those of those subsidies
Ted Turner the fuckin you know he was a
media guy what the heck is he doing is
because he's got all these holdings Lee
ranch hands and a lot of these subsidies
are going to people to not produce food
weird backwards thing and it does need
end you're right about that and you know
we want to talk about constitutional
right so on Wednesday at the same time I
use this platform for doing a
constitution study group so if that's
something that interests you guys and
you know because a lot of people have
been pulling the Constitution out and
saying hey I got a constitutional right
to not wear a mask and yadda yadda so I
wanted to study that and find that out
and I came to learn that as individuals
you know we have our Bill of Rights and
a lot of those have to deal more with
criminal you know in interactions like
how we're treated as criminals if we
commit crimes but when it comes to
creating orders involving and public
safety and when it comes to that type of
stuff we really actually don't have that
much power our power lives and our
voting and also in and and communicating
to our representatives of what we want
them to do so you're right yeah we
definitely need to pay more attention to
our voting and and and you know what I
think would be really great and what I'm
gonna do you're gonna see me doing a lot
more of this work is like moving people
together to become more powerful than
the lobbyists
the lobbyists are all in the hands of
the corporations and that's why you know
the farm bill is the way that it is you
know but there's a lot of people and
we're all connected on the internet now
you know so we we almost have to invest
into our mobile obviousness people
there's nobody out there sticking up for
us and stuff be enforced in this country
nothing has helped us as far as of
people everything has been advantage of
the corporations and corporations are
all people now right so it's like we you
know when it's um Eisenhower announced
to us years and years ago he said the
focus from corporations now and tell
that it's going to be really difficult
to change because you know the
corporations are paid off both sides so
it's difficult to make changes 1990 to
1992 was the last amendment to the
Constitution sometime
please do yeah we've got a little tea
room or moving to a different space like
you know but you know I'd love to show
you our Tea Room we could have tea and I
could show you some restaurants around
Miami absolutely it'd be great
you won't anything because you said you
can make syrups and other products out
of the maple different trees so I have a
birch tree which really is savory and
flavoring so it's almost like finishing
share here while sawing there's two
different one there's a there's one
that's one that comes out right in the
first four days and there's one next
they come after that it starts doing a
natural fermentation and so it becomes a
little thicker and a like a lot more
flavor but they're both savory so you
can put it over food and all that and
just some happy sweet assad's and
birches with eggs like just a quarter of
the surest as Mabel but birch if you go
back to human history was one of the
medicines that all the ancients took so
birch trees are always considered very
medicated or good for your mind
especially the bark some sack you know
that actually goes great with cheese I
think it's investment ease and that's a
balsam fir which is envious tree tea so
because of the organic and then that
flavor it just really pops the flavor of
tea and you really don't get disturbed a
so I've got a wall note wine we've got
four other tree once every incremental I
really interesting really curious about
- yeah cool yeah Atul nice to meet you
Jeff thank you so much for being a part
of this and really healthy awesome
conversation and we'll keep it going

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