Irvine Screening of Food Chains Brings Struggle of Florida Immokalee Workers Back to OC

Categories: Food Politics


The rebellion in Florida fields by Immakolee workers chronicled in the new documentary Food Chains partially started in Irvine. Tomato pickers, toiling under exploitative conditions, took their fight to Taco Bell's Irvine headquarters during a four-year "Boycott the Bell" campaign that ended in 2005.

The fast food chain finally agreed to pay a penny more per pound of tomatoes harvested in a victory for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). It propelled their Fair Food Program--one of the most powerful examples of labor organizing in the 21st century--to take on other companies with the same demand. The story of their struggle is set to return to Irvine by way of a special Food Chains screening on November 24 along with a protest action against Wendy's!

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Man Sues Cha Cha's in Brea For Discrimination Over "Señorita Thursday", Fails Miserably

Categories: Food Politics

Dave Lieberman
Deny deny deny

So this guy walks into a bar . . . Actually, it was Cha Cha's Latin Kitchen in Brea. So this guy walked into Cha Cha's during Señorita Night and wasn't treated like a señorita. Wait, that came out wrong. Basically, he was denied the same specials being offered to the ladies. That's what he told California Superior Court. Cha Cha's called bullshit.

One Steve Frye claimed (on two separate occasions in January and May of last year) that he was the victim of sexual discrimination when requesting the food and beverage offers made available to female clientele during the restaurant's themed night. However, attorneys for the establishment state Frye was the one who opted out when he declined their offer to serve the Thursday specials to him. Twice.

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Where Your "Craft" Whiskey Is Distilled Is Essentially Unimportant: A Rebuttal to The Daily Beast's Eric Felten

Colin Smith, CC-BY-SA 2.0
Stills at the Glenfiddich Distillery in Scotland
Eric Felten, writing for the Daily Beast, has stumbled upon the worst-kept secret in the liquor industry: much of the craft whiskey, especially rye, that commands high prices comes from a giant, intensely ugly building ten miles west of the Cincinnati airport. Cue the clutching of pearls, the shattering of dropped tulip glasses, the rending of lapels, the wailing of women. How could we all fall for this?

He is correct on the facts: a former Seagram's distillery called MGP, located in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, furnishes much of the American whiskey we see on our shelves. Bourbon and rye flow from the industrial stills. He is correct that when you see a whiskey older than the company selling it, those barrels were bought from elsewhere.

Here is the entire reason MGP exists, in ten words: Our thirst for whiskey has overwhelmed the number of distilleries.

Does it matter? Not really.

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Cody Storts Discusses Hopscotch Departure, Walkout of His Culinary Militia

Categories: Food Politics

Nieuport 17 FB
Short rib stroganoff at Nieuport 17. Doesn't suck.

Rumors. Really awesome rumors have been circulating as of late regarding a group known as the Culinary Militia and one chef associated with Hopscotch in Fullerton. Like a game of Telephone, the facts have been stretched enough to where I asked the one person who could set the record straight. Was there a falling out? Stealing? Blackmail? Walkout? Cody Storts and I met over fish tacos to discuss what was going on.

Cody trusted me enough to want to share what's been happening for the last month or so. And that's what this is about. If you'd like to know how Tustin's Nieuport 17 factors into all of this, keep going. Otherwise, there's always my chef interview.

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Will Long Beach Get a Cooperative Grocery Store?

Categories: Food Politics

The September 2012 closing of an Albertsons grocery store in central Long Beach inadvertently opened the door to a new idea. Residents began soliciting chains like Trader Joe's and Sprouts to come in, only to have their letter-writing campaigns rebuffed on the grounds that the area didn't fit demographic needs (aka not white enough). Out of the frustrating experience, neighbors began wondering if a co-op grocery store might better serve the community and its needs.

"If nobody is going to open a market, maybe we should open it ourselves," says Damon Lawrence, a founding board member of Long Beach Grocery Co-op.

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Irwindale City Council Unanimously Declares Sriracha Fumes a Public Nuisance

Willy Blackmore
Remember, Huy Fong's the one

Just when you thought you were safe from Huy Fong Sriracha shortages for a little while, the city of Irwindale just has to show up and ruin the party.

The Irwindale City Council voted 4-0 last night to to declare the spicy scent that leeches from the Huy Fond factory during production time an official "public nuisance," nevermind that a judge had already granted the city a preliminary injunction back in November and that the company is already working to reduce the spicy, spicy aroma.

Irwindale just wanted Huy Fong to be on double secret probation.

"The City Council is determined to assert its authority regardless of the status of the odor remediation efforts," Huy Fond Attorney John Tate told the LA Times.

So what's next for Huy Fong?

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Berkeley Dog Investor From Communist China Loses U.S. Immigration Request

Thumbnail image for BerkeleyM.JPG
OC Weekly
A People's Republic of China businessman seeking special entry rights to the United States after investing $1 million in Berkeley Dog, Inc. restaurants in Orange County has lost the appeal of a Department of Homeland Security rejection of his "Immigration by Alien Entrepreneur" request.

Lianming Zhao wanted to take advantage of a 1990 law that grants immigration rights to foreign nations who make significant U.S. business investments that create at least 10 new, full-time jobs.

In May 2011, Zhao invested $1,000,100 in Berkeley Dog and three months later filed his immigration petition while asserting he'd create more than 20 jobs.

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Four Loko Is (Spiritually) Dead

Categories: Food Politics

Photo by Kyle James

Well, that's it. Nearly a decade after it was first introduced and four years after it removed caffeine (and two other stimulants) from its formula, the Four Loko that once was is finally dead.

Chicago-based Phusion Projects came to a settlement Tuesday with 19 different state attorney generals and the attorney general of San Francisco to no longer include caffeine in any of its alcoholic products (they actually stopped in 2010) as well as not market to people under the age of 21. While the Four Loko brand may live on, the idea behind the drink is now officially dead -- today, it's basically glorified Smirnoff Ice.

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Legendary Grande Bakery May Be Coming Back to Santa Ana

Come home!

When Grande Bakery closed late last October, Santa Ana lost the second oldest Mexican eatery in Orange County, and the parishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe church found themselves without an obvious place to get pan dulce for the first time since 1951. Some of the community members, who had patronized the bakery for years, even went without tamales for the holiday season.

Well, now Grande Bakery might be coming back, and to the same neighborhood too. The City of Santa Ana has been in talks with the Grande owners, the Gallegos family, for several months and are working on an agreement that would open another Grande in the same area.

"We've been having conversations to hopefully come to an agreement," says Councilmember Vince Sarmiento, who grew up around the corner from the bakery and was one of the community members who went without tamales last year. "...We're cautiously optimistic. ... I'd say the conversations have been more periodic in the last three months."

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Irvine Councilman's Twisted Logic To Block Chick-fil-A: It Would Be Too Popular

Categories: Food Politics

Larry Agran: Popular restaurants cause unacceptable pollution
In mid-January after winning public concessions, Irvine's Planning Commission voted to approve an application by Chick-fil-A to build its fast-food restaurant and drive-through in University Center, the shopping plaza next to the UC Irvine campus.

Chick-fil-A executives agreed to comply with all local building standards and city planners, who extensively studied the proposal for the 4,736-square-foot operation, determined the plan was reasonable in every facet.

But councilman Larry Agran wants to block the development and tomorrow will ask his colleagues to join him in overriding the planning commission's decision.

Given that it's one of Orange County's most corrupt, grandstanding and egotistical politicians doing the whining, you know his rationale will cause indigestion.

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