Girls on Food

GOF Interviews

GOF Interview: Brooke Rewa of mylk

There’s nothing more irritating than buying something that you think is good for you and then realizing, it’s not. After the interview below with Brooke Rewa, owner of mylk by Made With Love Wellness Co, I finally decided to look up the ingredients to the almond milk my husbands likes me to buy and… yikes. I can see all the icky ingredients she pointed out to me: added sugars, gums, binders, fillers and oils. Also, when I looked up the nutritional facts, I realized, there’s nothing nutritional to the almond milk I was buying at all.

According to Brooke, “not all plant milks are created equally and just because it’s a plant milk doesn’t mean it’s actually healthy” and after researching many other store brands of plant-based milks, she’s totally right. Originally, juice started as a beverage line under Made With Love Wellness Co, then came the mylk, which has been very successful.  

After mylk was also such a hit at my recent Shared Plates fundraiser for the L.A. Kitchen, and after tasting many of the different flavors from Brooke’s line, I am officially making the switch in my almond milk to mylk and I hope you’ll join me! Check out my interview with Brooke below!      

GOF: Why did you decide to cut out dairy?

BR: Well, I never liked the taste of milk. My parents would make us drink a glass of milk with dinner every night and I would plug my nose and chug mine to get it down as quickly as possible. I cut out dairy when I was in my early teens mostly because I loved animals and as I learned about the practices of most big dairy farms, I got really grossed out. Plus, it never made me feel that well.  

GOF: Do you remember when and how you discovered almond milk?

BR: I was pretty young when I started drinking non-dairy milks but honestly, I started with soy. It was all the rage back then and the most widely known. Freshman year of Collage, I moved to San Francisco and that’s when I found almond milk and there was no going back! 

GOF: When it comes to making your own almond milk recipes, what is the process like for you? 

BR: Making the recipes is my favorite part! I’ve never made a plant milk recipe I didn’t like actually. I always joke, as a kid I never competed in talent competitions because I didn’t really have a talent. But if I could go back to my childhood, with my recipes now, I think I’d have a good chance at taking home some prizes! 

GOF: Have you had any recipe blunders when you were creating your products?

BR: I actually have a strange knack for getting it right (or at least tasty) the first time. Other than the literal messes I make, not really. My staff pretty much cringe when they see me coming for the kitchen as I am definitely very messy in there. I have certainly had a few face fulls of blender contents in my day… putting the lid on is very important!  

GOF: I see you grew up on a farm in New York, what brought you out to LA?

BR: My grandparents actually had their own dairy farm, so I spent a lot of time there. I came to LA after film school to work in film/tv. Health and wellness were my other passions but I had no idea how to make a living pursing a career in those areas. 

GOF: How long did you take you to go from selling at farmer’s markets to selling in shops and cafes?

BR: Selling wholesale was really my plan all along so they kind of went hand in hand. The farmer’s market was great because it paid immediately and allowed me to put money right back into my business. Wholesale accounts usually take anywhere from 7-30 days to pay, so you have to have a little financial support to get those accounts going.  

GOF: Any new flavors coming up that you’re excited about? 

BR: Yes! We are planning for the launch of our new Single Serving and Concentrate Frozen Mylks. Hopefully by January 1st, 2019 you will be able to order Goodmylk to your door anywhere in the US! 

GOF: What is your favorite flavor of mylk or juice? 

BR: Matcha Mylk, always. But Nut Nog is coming, during the holidays, that one! 

GOF: Is there anything in the health/lifestyle world that you’re tired of seeing on Instagram? 

BR: Oat milk. I could go on but instead, I encourage people to do their own research. The oat milks on the market are very dangerous for daily consumption. 

GOF: Are there any restaurants in LA that you think live up to Made With Love standards?

BR: We have a few that we are lucky to work with actually! Joi Cafe, Jewel, Green Table Cafe, Sweet Laurel Cafe, the food and drinks are all on point at these places.  

GOF: How often do you do cleanses? 

BR: I personally do our 3 day cleanse with juice, food and our superfood mylkshakes twice a year.  

GOF: If there’s one piece of advice you have for aspiring business owners? 

BR: Be bold. Think Bigger.  
Made With Love Wellness Co is located in Los Angeles, join me in making the switch from grocery store to locally owned!

GOF Interviews: Christy Cunanan of Cheeri Cheeri Ice Cream

I appreciate any good food but food that delivers a kick of nostalgia is extra tasty to me. The preparation of food with an intention to make you feel sentimental takes more than making food that feels familiar. It has to somehow stimulate your sensory memory using all 5 of your senses, transporting you to a specific place in time. These foods often evoke more emotion out of me, because I usually associate the flavors with something very personal to me.

“Ice cream is a medium that takes people back to something special” according to Christy Cunanan, the creator of Cheeri Cheeri, her vegan and Filipino ice cream brand. The mission of Cheeri Cheeri ice cream is to allow its customers to connect back to something precious in their lives, all the while enjoying their ice cream. What inspired her line of ice cream the most? Time spent with her Lolo and Lola (for those not familiar, that’s Grandpa and Grandma).

Born and raised in Pasadena, Christy remembers when the ice cream man would drive around her neighborhood. “What made it so special was the rushed ritual of hearing the ice cream truck and then that challenge of convincing them to give us money to buy the ice cream. After I’d get my hands on a watermelon pop, I’d realize how much Lola and Lolo just wanted to see us happy. So you just remember these times like this and how special they were. You were never eating alone.”

Christy Cunanan in her Pasadena home

These days, this UCLA alumni works a 9-5 at Disney Animation as a Production Coordinator, builds up her ice cream empire and still makes time to have 4 hour Facetime sessions with Lolo and Lola. She started embarking on her ice cream career with her first pop up in April 2017. In the beginning, her brand wasn’t vegan, but in December of 2017, after her family got hit with diabetes and cancer, she decided to take on a plant-based lifestyle. “Since my family was vegan, my product had to be as well. I have to have this ice cream reflect my family. I’d hate for people to miss out just because they’re vegan. It matters enough to have a line of ice cream knowing it’s on the healthiest side.”

Although many people think of dishes like Ube and Ensaymada when they think of Filipino food, Christy insists it’s not hard to go plant-based in this genre. “Sure, I’ve struggled with capturing butter and cheese, common ingredients in Filipino breads but through trial and error, I achieve what my Lolo and Lola say “time is medicine”. I’ve been able to replicate the identity of many traditional Filipino desserts, so we can all enjoy them.”

Buko Pandan

Her top seller is her Buko Pandan ice cream, but looks can be deceiving with this flavor. This classic dessert tends to be identified with it’s bright green gelatinous chunks. But because Christy keeps everything as natural as possible, she doesn’t do dyes. It’s white, but the flavor is still rich with a beautifully creamy texture.

Calamansi Ice Cream (size small)

My favorite flavor is her Calamansi ice cream. It’s refreshing, tart and velvety all in one. This flavor had had stakes for her to capture perfectly. “My Grandpa planted a Calamansi tree in our backyard, so I felt the extra pressure to get it correct. This is one of the most personal flavors to me” Christy told me.

When I asked Christy about the current Filipino food craze; she shared she’s very supportive of the trend but notes “there’s major ube love happening right now and that’s great, but we want you to explore the full spectrum of our food. A strong sense of identity has to be transferred to every bite.”

What customer melts Christy’s heart the most? “Grandparents! I get a kick out of when older Filipino-Americans taste my ice cream and say ‘I know what this is!'”

Get frozen in time! Christy will be scooping her famous Calamansi Cheeri Cheeri ice cream at the Girls on Food Shared Plates dinner coming up, Friday, October 5th at Industrious Century City. get your tickets here.

GOF Interview With La Feria de los Moles Co-Founder Lourdes Juarez

On Saturday, October 7th 2018, the 11th annual La Feria de los Moles will commence at Grand Park in DTLA. This free event is an LA classic celebrating all things mole, offering live music and mole preparation workshops. Favorite local vendors including Rinconcito Poblano, Carniceria La Flama and Zapotec Cafe will be selling their dishes starting at $10 per plate. One new addition for fans of this event is a “Passage Through the Eras of Mole” an exhibit that will detail the development of mole ingredients during “pre-Hispanic” era and the creation of mole and it’s evolution into specific dishes based on environmental region during “post conquest” era.

La Feria de los Moles Co-founder Lourdes Juarez, who grew up in South Central LA, has a serious excitement for sharing this iconic Oaxacan dish with others. Growing up, Lourdes and learned how to make Mole Poblano, Green and Red Pepian from her mother and these experiences awoken that passion in her. I recently spoke with Lourdes about this event and her mole endeavors- check out my interview with her below!

Lourdes Juarez

GOF: Do you have a standard mole recipe that you always cook for events or do you like to mix it up? LJ: My Mole recipe is fairly standard now, but it must have been more unique before. I feel this way because I recall my mother saying “if your grandmother was alive, oh no, I would be in trouble.” See the thing is that it is very hard to get Ingredients common to Mexico. It is often one or two ingredients, a small variation, that becomes the essence of each family’s recipe.

GOF: How did you start up La Feria de los Moles?
LJ: My husband (co-founder Pedro Ramos) one day said “I want to honor my grand-mother.” Of course she too had a special Mole recipe and I recall that moment because he tells me he saw my face shine like a light bulb in my head was shining through my eyes and skin. The dots all connected with memories of his mother’s Mole, and of course with my parents each coming from Oaxaca and Puebla would tease each other about growing up with the best Mole. The difficulty at first was getting the Moles and the chefs to come from those Mexican states. It was kind of hard to find it on menus here. Now everyone from the smallest to the grandest restaurants have Mole on the menu. If Angelenos still can’t find a Mole they love, they should make plans each year to taste different Moles at La Feria de Los Moles.

GOF: Can you tell me about the process of getting Mole sauce it’s own national holiday in Mexico?
LJ: Oh my gosh. First we had to submit an official request. Then we wait for majority approval. It is a long extensive writing process. It’s like submitting a scientific study on Mole with research and findings, etc. Its very difficult but not impossible, we are indeed excited.

GOF: Can you tell me your top 3 spots for Mole dishes in LA?
LJ: Sorry, but no, not really. That’s just too difficult a question for me because some places just use about 6 ingredients in their Mole while others are far more extravagant with over 40 ingredients and I completely appreciate any and all Moles. If someone loves, cares, and respects the history of Mexican cuisine enough to place Mole on the menu I’m going to be a fan. So I’m just going to take the easy way out of that question and say come down to La Feria de los Moles and find your own favorite.

GOF: Have you ever tried to add something different to Mole, and did that work out?
LJ: Yes, I have always been very interested in exploring and experimenting with different ingredient options. One day I tried honey instead of homemade chocolate, and my mother stop talking to me for over two months! In my family that’s like an eternity and every family member knew I must have done something horrible and when they found out what I did they agreed with my punishment. My lesson learned was go ahead and experiment around the edges, but never mess with the core of our Mole recipe!

GOF: What does mole represent to you?
LJ: Mole represents my roots. The flavor always takes me back to my childhood, which goes back four generations. In my opinion Mole is the epitome of family. Mole brings families together, large and small. When Mole is being served everyone comes over. The table is full, everyone is happy, it’s just the best.

For more information on La Feria de los Moles, click here.

GOF Interview: Chef Ria Barbosa Of PCP DTLA

ROW DTLA, what was once known as the LA Terminal Market, is an industrial oasis in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, packed with contemporary retail and dining spots. Among them is one of the latest additions, Paramount Coffee Project, a Sydney-based coffee shop.

PCP DTLA
777 E 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90021
https://pcpdtla.com/

This giant location offers the option to grab beverages to go, space for laptop work and a full dining experience. The modern design, with color-pops of gold and bits of street art, PCP fits in perfectly with ROW DTLA.

Chef Ria Barbosa (Sqirl and Go Get Em Tiger) created both Paramount Coffee Project locations (Fairfax and The Row DTLA) breakfast and lunch menus. The menus merge comfort, seasonal, local and cuisine from Ria’s Filipino upbringing all together.

Pork Collar Sandwich – With Brie & Stonefruit on Baguette

I had a moment to sit with Ria to discuss creating recipes, childhood memories and the LA scene.

Me and Ria

GOF: Since Paramount Coffee Project first opened in Sydney, have you spent time in Australia? Did any items from the land-down-under inspire your menu?

RB: I actually have not been to Australia but I’m familiar with Vegemite! I’ve been introduced to a few native ingredients such as wattle seed and saltbush. They’re pretty amazing. I’ve also been introduced to the sausage roll which I’ve already hybridized with a Filipino lumpia filling that’s on the menu.

Sausage Roll

GOF: Have there been any cultural differences working with Australians?

RB: There’s a lot of pronunciations that we jab each other about such as herbs they pronounce the h, they pronounce tomatoes as to‐mah‐toes, and the like. We have a lot of fun talking about food stories.

I’m originally from the Philippines and the food there is still somewhat new to them so it’s nice to be able to introduce it to them and have them taste it. Because they’re so close to Asia there is already a familiarity with Asian influence so it’s nice to vibe and bounce ideas off of each other. I also love to hear about what Asian influenced foods they grew up eating.

GOF: What is the recipe creation process like for you?

RB: Often times it’s a food memory I’d like to recreate, or something we’ve tasted or heard about that influences what direction we want to take the original towards. How true to origin we’d like to stay closer to or how conceptual we want to take it. It all depends on how our diners receive it of course. For the most part, we’re approaching food from a very familiar and comforting stance but taken up a notch or two. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel.

Corn Fritter – With Peach Pico De Gallo, Fried Egg, Watercress and Creme Fraiche

GOF: What is your favorite childhood meal and have you ever recreated it on one of your menus?

RB: Summers growing up in California meant weekends in Redondo and my parents would take my siblings and I to eat crab by the pier. I was about 9 or 10 and learned how to pick dungeness crab by myself. We’d order a crab each along with a bunch of lemon and steamed rice. I would clean the whole crab myself, storing the picked meat in the shell of the crab, mixing it with the mustard (guts) and fresh lemon juice and eating it over steamed rice. It was a revelation and a very powerful food memory. It was possibly the first time I learned to balance fat and acid. I recreated it while I was the Chef at Sqirl and it actually made it into the cookbook! It was of course, jazzed up a bit. It impressed Antoinette Bruno of Star Chefs who had the dish while they were in town.

GOF: What’s one kitchen tool you think deserves more love?

RB: The humble mortar and pestle. Sure the Robot Coupe or the Vitamix can give you super smooth and delicious things but there’s something about the rustic nature of the mortar and pestle and the texture it lends to whatever you’re making in it.

GOF: Is there one food item on Instagram you’d like to see less of?

RB: I’m going to say it… Avocado toast!

GOF: Favorite LA high end spot and favorite lower end spot?

RB: These are always tough as it always changes, but off the top of my head, current high end would have to be Rustic Canyon. I’m such a fan of Chef Jeremy Fox and crew’s skills. And favorite lower end spot…I’ve been eating a lot of Mariscos Jalisco lately, it’s so good!

GOF: What is your favorite shop at The Row?

RB: Can there be a tie for first? I’ve really been loving the convenience and the selection at Flask and Field for post work activities and I found the tool box of my dreams at High Tide.

GOF: One item on the menu you’re the most proud of?

RB: They’re all kind of like my kids ‐‐ I’m very proud of all of them. But if I had to choose one, it would be the Eggs & Ham. It’s very simple in nature but the wet brining process and getting it to where it is took about two and a half months. It was still a work in progress when we opened and it was good, but there is always a chance to make things better in my opinion. The same goes for everything else on the menu. I’m always thinking of ways to push it and make it better.

Eggs & Ham – With Baguette House Cured Ham & Spicy Sunny Eggs

The quality of ingredients stood out in the Sausage Roll – the roll comes with a small but powerful side of fresh tarragon, parsley, dill and chevril adding a lightness to the meaty and flaky pastry.

If I had to choose, my top 2 favorite dishes were the Corn Fritter – the peach pico de gallo was beautiful and the onions are sweeter, less overwhelming than traditional pico de gallo and the Eggs & Ham – I can see why this is one of Ria’s proudest dishes, cause when you can take something familiar but elevate it with your own personal spin, it’s really something special. The addition of Bub & Grandma’s baguette is also excellent for dipping into the egg and hot sauce.

Dutch Baby – with seasonal fruit (plum) and creme fraiche

Thank you to Prismatics for arranging this interview. Although this tasting was comped by PCP DTLA, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.