Food Writer Wants to Become the iTunes of Recipes
Nadine Argueza grew up on a farm in the Philippines. Amazing recipes full of fresh local ingredients filled her childhood. “Any time our family got together there was always great food,” she remembers fondly. So it was only natural that a meandering path away from the Philippines and through college and a new life in the Bay Area sent her, ultimately, back home—into the realm of food, love, and the intersection of the two.
Nadine entered UC Berkeley as a nutritional sciences major. New to Berkeley, she wanted to learn more about her community and joined UC Berkeley’s Bonner Program, which connects activist-minded college students with local nonprofits in need of assistance. “I wanted to know why parts of Berkeley and Oakland were more dangerous to go to—why the inequality,” she says.
As a soft spoken but curious and empathy-driven Bonner Leader, Nadine recruited volunteers and helped with outreach for Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency, a nonprofit that helps Alameda County residents overcome homelessness and rebuild their lives. She saw how food was part of that inequality—poor neighborhoods with a liquor store on every corner and fresh produce nowhere to be found, or in limited quantities at exorbitant prices.
As she interacted with fellow UC Berkeley students, faculty, and community members from around the world, her interest in diversity blossomed. “I veered off my original path into cultural anthropology,” she says. The course study required a lot of interviews. She enjoyed connecting personally with people and eagerly absorbed their stories. Gradually, she found that while studying the systemic causes of inequity was interesting, but unsatisfying. “I was more interested in fighting inequity through tangible goals that could be achieved in small steps.”
She wasn't quite sure what those steps would look like, but a campus Iron Chef competition gave her a clue. “I won first prize,” she smiles. “And I thought, I may have something here.” She started a food blog, gave cooking classes to friends, and began catering friends’ events. Her blog started getting readers and comments from around the world. Realizing she had a growing audience, she wanted to see if she could make a d
“What excited me most,” she says, “was not the numbers of people who were reading it, but how engaged they were.”eeper impact.
Nadine Cooks is the first in what she plans as a series of self-published kindle cookbooks. Released just before Valentine’s Day, it is full of romantic recipes. Part of the proceeds will be donated to typhoon relief in the Philippines. Her second, currently being written, will be a more comprehensive cookbook, with food stories, memories, and recipes from people in different fields—with a focus on young entrepreneurs. Part of the proceeds will be donated to charities fighting poverty.
“I want to become is the iTunes of cookbooks,” she proclaims. Her website offers some free recipes and some for sale, and uses the Tom’s of Maine model of donating 50 percent of what she raises to charity.
To get there, she’s focused on growing her business—increasing her participation in local food journalism, beefing up her catering service, and bringing her cooking classes to a wider audience. She recently teamed up with CHAA (Community Health for Asian Americans) to offer free cooking classes on-site, and hopes to apply for grants.
“I realized that the best way I could make significant change was to make personal connections,” she smiles.
Connect with Nadine at facebook.com/nadinecooks -- SF
Sonja Fitz works as the development director for Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency in Berkeley. This is her second story for Allnewsnoblues.com.
A Big Like for "I Love You, You're Perfect..."
The hilarious musical comedy showcased by the Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre at the Danville Village Theatre opened March 1, and runs through March 16 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
With a cast of 3 outstanding actors and 3 terrifically talented actresses, who together play more than 40 characters, utilizing defining costume changes and the most modest set changes, succeed in bringing sensational humor to the stage.
The intensely-impacting truths of the dating process, a desire to connect with just the right partner and progress into the perfect relationship come to light scene by scene, evoking unstoppable laughter from the audience.
Described as “Seinfeld set to music,” the show is light-hearted, and easy to relate to in down-to-earth reality, enlivened by not so subtle digs at the outrageous incidents on stage. The cast of highly-trained and experienced performers clearly enjoy the teamwork involved in entertaining a satisfied audience.
Each one performs their various roles in a character-defining, convincing portrayal, with musical score and dance highlighting the period and scene of action. Viewers relate noticeably to the exaggerated reality of the scenarios depicting such themes as Always a Bridesmaid….Never a Bride, Masters and Johnson Therapy and the Serious Single Man Drought routine.
The pitch-perfect ensemble, a strong cast of skilled actors, all so at ease in their versatile roles provide captivating humor in a modern interpretation of an age-old interaction from the beginning of time: looking for love, finding trials and triumphs.
The novelty of a plethora of expedient costume changes keeps the performance at an on-target pace without delay. Spirits are high on stage and in the seats, where attention is held throughout the show.
Two acts with a mid-way intermission keep the running time to just over 2 hours. The Village Theatre is at 233 Front St. Danville. Tickets are available at www.villagetheatreshows.com/events or 925-314-3400, Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.--KRB
Karen Balch is a retired nurse, freelance writer and former thespian. She writes frequently for allnewsnoblues.com.
Vegan Iron Chef Competition Next Month
Purple eyeglasses and a facial piercing give Karine Brighten the vibe of a young woman at home in creative pursuits. But it is not music or art that consume her thoughts, it’s food. Plant-based food, to be specific, and sharing the joys of a plant-based diet with others
Brighten has been vegan for nine years. Originally from Canada, she was studying criminal justice while her husband attended law school when his studies on animal rights and factory farming turned both of them away from meat. At the time, it was an ethical decision that affected her shopping habits and dinner plate, but not her professional life.
Yet after earning her criminology degree and going to work in the field, she found she just wasn’t passionate about it. Hoping to put her strong organizing skills to good use, she enrolled in an event planning program. “It sounded fun,” she smiles.
After completing the program, she found an internship in Petaluma with a group called Daily Acts, where she helped with fundraising over the summer and got the itch for working in nonprofits. She worked for a while post-internship with a large Canadian event planning company but the itch remained, so when the couple moved to California so her husband could pursue his Ph.D., she decided to start her own business. She enrolled in a three month program in Oakland for women entrepreneurs, Women’s Initiative, and straight out of the box, she landed big vegan event planning contracts. “They were all just people I knew. The timing was right.”
The timing was right. Over the last several years vegan eateries and lifestyles have not only gained acceptance, they have flourished. From the upscale Millennium in San Francisco to Souley Vegan, a neighborhood soul food joint in Oakland near Jack London, to the growing number of vegan Chinese, Ethiopian, Indian, and fast food restaurants, vegans are no longer huddled by the salad bar at omnivore haunts. They want their own venues, their own chefs—their own places to eat, drink, and be merry.
Recognizing an untapped market, Karine threw herself into the world of vegan celebrations. “First I did a walk in San Francisco to support Farm Sanctuary,” she remembers. She planned the opening for Berkeley’s Nature’s Express, then organized the opening of Cinnaholic in downtown Berkeley. Along the way, she earned her Green Business certification—all Karine Brighten events are sustainable and eco-friendly. “It’s really, really important to me,” she says.
As her reputation in the vegan even planning world gained a foothold, Karine heard about a group in Portland that had put on a vegan version of the hit Food TV program Iron Chef. “I knew I had to do a local version,” she smiles. The First Vegan Chef at the First Unitarian Church of San Francisco was a huge success that sold out weeks beforehand.
More than 250 people turned out to watch vegan chef luminaries such as Chef Eric Tucker of Millennium, Phil Gelb vegetarian chef and caterer, and winning Chef Lisa Books-Williams, who wow’d the judges with creative raw concoctions including ‘Luscious Live Dumpling filled with a Cashini Mirepoix and Wilted Greens.’The event had been billed as the 1st Annual such bash, but she had to ask herself, was it lightning in a bottle that drew a vegan-curious crowd who would not return, or was there really a longing for this kind of showcase for plant-based gastro-glitterati?
Determined to capitalize on year one, she talked to guests and participants to analyze what worked and what didn’t, and revamped the format for the 2nd annual event, scheduled for March 23rd at SOMArts in San Francisco.
And she continues to push forward, expanding her vegan event-planning empire. The hardest part, according to Brighten, is just finding the gigs. While her dream business is a client list full of vegan animal rights causes celebre.
the fact is most nonprofits do a lot in-house, she says, to save money. “I get a lot of wedding requests,” she adds.
Weddings are a great venue, she admits, because you get to expose a lot of non-vegans to plant-based eating, and for Karine Brighten Events to succeed, she knows she needs to pull in both the converted and the curious. Something food competitions excel at.-- SF
Vegan Iron Chef
Sunday March 23. 2014
934 Brannan St.
11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Theme: Impromptu Sunday Dinner Party for 10!
Chefs will be presented with 3 baskets of ingredients to make 1 appetizer (20 minutes), 1 entrée (45 minutes) and 1 dessert (20 minutes). Each chef will have access to the same ingredients and equipment, and will have two sous-chefs helping them.
Tickets available at: www.purplepass.com/vic
$25 General Admission
$50 Reserved Seating + VIC apron (handful of tickets left)
($150 Tasting Menu tickets are sold out)
Jeff Astafa, chef/owner of jay astafa catering, New York City
Jillian Love, Life Coach and Founder of Bay Area Raw, San Francisco
Chef AJ, Author of Unprocessed, former Executive Vegan Pastry Chef at Sante Restaurant in Los Angeles
Miyoko Schinner, food writer, speaker, and restaurateur, www.artisanveganlife.com
Sonja Fitz works as the development director for Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency in Berkeley. This is her first story for Allnewsnoblues.com
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change opens March 1, and runs though March 16 at the Village Theatre in Danville.
This celebration of the mating game takes on the truths and myths behind that contemporary conundrum known as 'the relationship.'
Act I explores the journey from dating and waiting to love and marriage, while Act II reveals the agonies and triumphs of in-laws and newborns, trips in the family car, and pick-up techniques of the geriatric set.
This hilarious revue pays tribute to those who have loved and lost, to those who have fallen on their face at the portal of romance, and to those who have dared to ask, 'Say, what are you doing Saturday night?'
Tri Valley Repertory is reuniting the cast and artistic staff to re-create the sell-out smash hit from their 2010 season.
Produced by Kathleen Breedveld, directed by Christina Lazo, with musical direction by Joe Simiele, the cast includes: Morgan Breedveld; David Irving; Min Kahng; Amy Lucido; Alex Orenberg; and Paula Gianetti. Based on the book by the same name, lyrics are by Joe DiPietro and music is by Jimmy Roberts.
Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
The Village Theatre is located at 233 Front St. in Danville.To purchase tickets go to http://www.villagetheatreshows.com/events/ or call -925-314-3400 Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about TVRT visit: www.trivalleyrep.org or call 925-462-2121.-KB
Thrifty Finds at Savers
We all know there are thrift stores and then there are thrift stores, with a wide variety of differences. On a scale of keeping up with the values and the sensibility of shopping for gently used or repurposed items in a world of high tech, high definition and high end price tags, innovation and practicality of best value commerce makes sense and more cents! In business for 60 years, originating with the San Francisco store,
SAVERS is the largest for-profit thrift chain, with 315 locations in the U.S., Canada and Australia. Their slogan, “Good Deeds, Good Deals” is founded on the “Nifty-Thrifty” virtue that Ben Franklin espoused, and expresses their two-fold mission: alliances with non-profit organizations and proceeds going directly to local community donation centers.
Operating like a swap station, the concept of interactive business takes on new meaning. A donation center is located on site of the discount establishment, receiving clothing, household goods, books, toys, furnishings, bedding and more. For each bundle of donations, a coupon for 20 percent off the next purchase is exchanged to the customer for use within the store, along with a tax receipt.
Each shopping day differs, with thousands of new discoveries daily. Fabulous finds range from collectibles, unexpected treasures, to wearing apparel varying from designer to vintage values. Some portion of the inventory is comprised of tag-on, never used, new items.
Orange tagged items indicate a 50% discount, every Tuesday Seniors are given 20% off purchases and seasonal rewards and other incentives are promoted. The “Thrift Cycle” of SAVERS defines a higher purpose with core values of “giving back and providing opportunities.” When you donate and shop at SAVERS, you support local non-profits, and recycling benefits the planet, sparing landfills.
Upon entering the store, one cannot help but notice how clean, well-organized and easily defined the areas of merchandise can be recognized. Observing a mature couple comment, while visualizing the expansive array before them, she could be heard saying “Oh my, we’re going to be here awhile.” He responded with a resounding “OH, yeah!” The convenience of shopping carts and roll-around baskets allow for gathering all the fabulous finds on your ultimate treasure hunt.
Locally, there are 7 stores within a 50 mile radius: Berkeley, Dublin, Milpitas, Redwood City, Vacaville and 2 in San Jose. In Dublin at 7117 Regional St., SAVERS is located in the former Mervyn’s building. Business hours are: Daily 9 – 9, Sunday 10 – 7. Phone: 925.551-0945. The Dublin outlet partners with Epilepsy Foundation of America.
Founded on a mission of teamwork, the Bellevue, Washington based organization employs 20,000 workers, offering “a culture and a conscience” unique in the industry. Worldwide, new emerging markets in struggling countries gain benefits from having a resource available to supply them with saleable merchandise. What doesn’t sell, of the highest quality goods, in the U.S. outlets is sent to developing nations around the globe, to offer in their marketplaces as affordable, useful items. Last year’s sales yielded sufficient revenue to contribute $180 million to fund programs and services to 160 non-profit partners in the U.S., Canada and Australia.--KRB
Karen Balch is a retired nurse, freelance writer and thrifty shopper. She writes regularly for allnewsnoblues.com.
Locals Seek Help for Philippines Relief
A group of local volunteers will fly to the Philippines to assist with disaster relief on Dec. 1 and seeks community support for a mission of mercy.
Following the super typhoon Haiyan which devastated the Philippines and claimed more than 5,200 lives earlier this month, Castro Valley native Dan Johanson will lead the group that aims to provide support to the island communities of Leyte and Samar.
“We intend to reach the most underserved locations where relief has yet to arrive and to bring resources to bear that will allow needy families to regain their livelihoods and begin to rebuild their lives,” Johanson said.
Most of the group hails from Castro Valley and Hayward and several of the volunteers are affiliated with First Presbyterian Church of Hayward, including Rev. Toby Nelson.
The volunteers are bringing supplies to help the Filipinos of Leyte and Samar revive their fishing and agriculture industries, which are the communities' primary means of support. They will also deliver and help to install solar-powered communication equipment to help local leaders coordinate aid and development on the remote islands which may not regain electricity for a year, Johanson said.
Despite the outpouring of international support since the typhoon struck, the needs of Leyte and Samar are dire, Johanson said.
“UNICEF, the Red Cross and the big organizations are effective in providing a certain bandwidth of support but we are attempting to reach the smallest, most needy communities," he said.
Johanson lived in the Philippines for more than ten years and founded Badjao Bridge, a nonprofit organization that provides poverty relief to the impoverished Filipinos known as the Sea Gypsies on the island of Panglao.
Volunteers are paying about $2,000 each for expenses of the 11-day effort. They would welcome donations.
"Our overhead is minimal and our donations are completely used for the purposes of relieving the greatest amount of suffering that people are enduring right now," Johanson said.
Badjao Bridge is accepting donations through its web site, www.BadjaoBridge.org.--MJ