Gender Relations & Leadership: Outlook of the Future of the Food & Bev Industry

On this podcast recorded at Fodoable.io in Seattle, our host Yareli Quintana speaks with three leaders in the foodservice and beverage industry who also happen to be women. The conversation begins by each identifying some of the changes they’ve seen happen in their respected industries throughout the years.

First, you’ll hear from Zoi Antonitsas, executive chef of Little Fish, Seattle’s first modern-day craft cannery and restaurant which will be found in the heart of Pike Place Market once it opens. Chef Antonitsas has over 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry and says she’s been fortunate to have worked with incredible men and women up and down the West Coast.

“I’ve never really felt like I’ve ever been discriminated against as far as being a woman, with the exception of a few, I would say, financial question marks…,” says Antonitsas. “There have definitely been a couple of times where I’ve had to fight to get financial compensation for my work, where I know for a fact that some male counterparts have received more money without having to ask.”

Then, you’ll hear from Brenda Lobbato, the Northwest Region Vice President at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. She got into the beverage industry 30 years ago and has been in her current role since 2016, where she manages 26 percent of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates’ revenue totaling to $698M. Lobbato shares with the speakers that she’s recently seeing a lot more women getting into the beverage industry, which, for a long time, has been a “good ol’ boys network.” She’s proud to share that she’s helping spearhead a women’s group within Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

“We have this thing we call Women of  Wine... we call ourselves WOW and so we started this WOW organization from the standpoint of having concerns that affect all employees, but that women are bringing forward,” says Lobbato. “So, if that’s a mentoring program or that’s a skills program, like public speaking or financial acumen, whatever that is… it’s making those topics and resources safe to talk about.”

Throughout the podcast, you’ll also hear from Roz Edison, co-founder of Marination Ma Kai, a food truck turned into brick-and-mortar locations serving up Hawaiian-Korean fusion cuisine across Seattle. Ten years ago, Marination Ma Kai’s food truck was “the first on 10 rolling in the streets of Seattle.” That number has grown tremendously since then and now Edison and her business partner are also established entrepreneurs in the fast casual space.

“Sadly, though, I just came from a 3-day conference from my industry. It’s called the Fast Casual Executive Summit, so about 150 to 300 C-level folks from chains that range from 50 to 800 units. Almost every single panel had 100 percent white, male panelists…,” says Edison. “...I had really hoped I would run into a female CEO or a female director of operations. That, I’m not seeing in the fast-casual side of it.”

The four speakers later dive into topics like employee relations, mentorship, and hopes for the future of the industry as it pertains to women. Stay tuned to hear which direction this interesting conversation took and how each panelist feels about each topic discussed!

Food Trucks: An Operator's Journey From Mobile Business to Brick-and-Mortar

Food Trucks: An Operator's Journey From Mobile Business to Brick-and-Mortar

By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large

There are several perks to starting a restaurant business on four wheels. 

Food trucks have less overhead costs. Not to mention, it's faster to get the concept up and running, and menus tend to be simpler. 

With all of these things in mind, there is less risk involved when starting a food truck than opening a brick-and-mortar, making it a great environment for amateur operators to learn the food service landscape.

However, there are also several challenges to operating a food truck. Getting a loan can be more difficult, the local regulations can be strict, there is limited space for meal prep, the mobile food industry is competitive, and the weather can heavily influence traffic. 

The particularly successful mobile food businesses that overcome these challenges often decide to expand the concept to a traditional brick-and-mortar. 

We decided to chat with two food truck owners who have had so much success on wheels that it led them to expand their concepts with a permanent store location. Brett Chiavari has two B.C. Tacos trucks, which he expanded to a brick-and-mortar in the South Florida area and Michael Davidson operates the GrilledCheezGuy truck and will be debuting a permanent store in San Francisco February. 

See what they had to say about their journey from food trucks to brick-and-mortar below.

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Omings Kitchen Food Truck Finds Success at Vegas' First Friday Street Festival

Omings Kitchen Food Truck Finds Success at Vegas' First Friday Street Festival

By Lila Asnani, Foodable Contributor 

First Friday is a street festival that occurs monthly in Las Vegas.  It started in Oct of 2002 as an arts festival which was aimed at revitalizing the Downtown Arts District. First Friday Las Vegas has since expanded over the years to include different forms of visual and performing arts, live music and food. 

Today, First Friday extends over 20 blocks and this free event attracts an average of 30,000 people. The main Art Walk event is centered in the 18b Arts District which has galleries and art showings. The event has also expanded to include Freemont Street, the downtown cluster of casinos, which offers free musical acts for attendees 21 years and over.   

Omings Kitchen

One of the main draws for First Friday is most definitely the food, particularly the 70 some food trucks that gather monthly for this event. Omings Kitchen is one such food truck that got its start at First Friday in May, 2014.  

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A Moveable Feast - Seattle's Top Street Eats

A Moveable Feast - Seattle's Top Street Eats

By L.M. Archer, Foodable Contributor

Any day of the week, Seattle’s food truck scene kicks the dusty old ‘chuck wagon’ image to the urban curb. An unintended consequence of the recession, many Seattle food industry professionals have turned to mobile eateries as an option for doing more with less - less capital outlay and overhead, more visibility and exposure.

Concurrently, hip Seattle consumers have discovered curbside coaches can offer more menu options, higher quality, and greater convenience at a fraction of the cost, usually about $10-$15 per meal.

Here, FoodableTV samples Seattle’s trendy food truck scene.

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Dragon Grille: Creating a Moving Legacy

Dragon Grille: Creating a Moving Legacy

By Lila Asnani, Foodable Contributor 

Food trucks are a staple in many parts of the nation, but are still in their infancy in Las Vegas.  One person who is determined to change this and is working hard to make sure that food trucks are here to stay is Yasser Zermeno. 

Yasser and his cousin, Christian Guzman, are the owners of the Dragon Grille food truck.  The Dragon Grille serves modern, Asian-fusion cooking.   It was chosen as the 2015 Best Food Truck by the LV Review Journal Readers Poll, an impressive feat for a business that has only been around for two years.  The Dragon Grille has also been featured on the FYI channel and in the Los Angeles Times. 

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