Recently, Liz, Rosie, Simon and I got to host a group of high schoolers at 18 Reasons after a tour of the Market and Creamery. The kids were part of the Mayor’s Youth Employment and Education Program. On this day, hundreds of youth got to spend a day off from school supplementing their education gaining insight about careers that interest them. Over fifty local businesses generously opened their doors to provide a glimpse of what they do and to sit down and engage in a conversation that could hopefully inspire future career paths.
We had eight kids in our group who were interested in learning more about the food business. Some wanted to be chefs, others just loved food, all were really excited and thankful to be sitting with us. Our first stop was the Creamery where the kids got see how our ice cream was made. They were blown away, especially after they got to taste the goods right out of the machine.
We then went down to 18 Reasons so we could talk in a less chaotic setting and to taste some more goodies. We brought raw milk, avocados and cara cara oranges with us. They couldn’t believe how great raw milk tasted and got a mini lecture on pasteurization and the nutritional benefits of raw milk. The Haas avocados we brought were from California and Chile so we could do a comparative tasting. The California grown Haas was from a small family farm in San Diego and only available to us for about a month. A few of the kids said they didn’t like avos, but after seeing their peers ask for seconds, they dug in and thought the California Haas was “way better”. They couldn’t believe how creamy and luscious it was compared to the seemingly watered-down Chilean fruit. The highlight of the tasting was the cara cara oranges, a navel orange cross that is pinkish-red in color. The students marveled at how beautiful they were but were even more enamored once they tasted them.
The four of us talked about the various paths we took before getting to Bi-Rite. It was great to hear the personal stories from Liz, Rosie and Simon. I am constantly inspired by how dedicated and passionate our staff is. I also got to share my history and the story of Bi-Rite with them–they couldn’t believe I started working when I was six years old and laughed when I told them that I wanted nothing to do the with the grocery business by the time I graduated from high school.
It was a great day and reminded me of the day that inspired me to get into the hospitality industry. My high school held a Career Day senior year where we got to spend an entire day with someone in an industry that we were interested in. My first choice was law, second choice was accounting and third choice was hotel management. I was a bit disappointed when I learned I got my third choice (Could you imagine me in a suit every day? )—but it ended up being the catalyst to get me to where I am today. I got to spend the day at the Sheraton Palace Hotel in downtown SF, getting the opportunity to see the inner workings of the hotel. I was blown away. I loved how autonomous and complicated the hotel was, how many people with different skill sets it took to make it work. It was like a city. Long story short, I pursued an education in Hotel Management and when no hotel would hire me without any experience, I got a job as a prep cook. I fell in love with food and decided to become a cook. I got to travel to Switzerland to work and returned to open my own restaurant at the age of 23. The rest is history.
I feel really lucky that I found my calling early in life and hope that sharing my passion will inspire and lead to more kids pursuing something they love.