BTB Showcase: Chef Rock Harper, RockSolid Creative Food Group, LLC

Rahman “Rock” Harper, RockSolid Creative Food Group, LLC

By Margo Gabriel

The art of relationship building is crucial in this current climate where so many are suffering job losses amidst the pandemic. This soft skill is what has led chef Rahman “Rock” Harper to an incredibly successful culinary career. The San Diego native grew up in Alexandria, Va. and spent summers watching his grandmother cook delicious southern food such as angel biscuits, yeast rolls and apple butter.

Harper is a nationally recognized chef, community activist, educator, healthy food advocate, restaurateur and author. He’s worn many hats throughout his decorated 25-year culinary career that also includes being the third winner of Gordan Ramsey’s “Hell’s Kitchen” and executive chef for B. Smith’s in D.C. from 1999 until 2007.

In 2016, Harper formed RockSolid Creative Food Group, LLC, which focuses on helping chefs and restaurant communities attain higher levels of success. He’s the host of The Chef Rock Xperiment podcast, and a food industry radio show called Shift Drink.

During this interview, Harper shares gems about cultivating relationships beyond the networking stage we’re typically used to and approaching these liaisons with the intention of creating authentic connections.  Even if they don’t pay off right away, be patient as they may in one, five or ten years.

He is candid about the advice he wished he could have told his younger self: slow down, develop discipline, listen more, talk less and ask more questions. With a mission centered around  “entertainment, education and empowerment for the food industry,” it is evident that the principles and mantras he lives by definitely motivate the work he’s doing through his business.

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Iota Phi Lambda Sorority Commits $7k In Grants To Small Businesses Owned By African American Women

Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc, in partnership with the Lola M. Parker Foundation is committed to empowering youth and women to achieve financial independence through entrepreneurship and business education.

Small businesses owned by African American women are being adversely affected by COVID-19. As we know, African American owned businesses do not always have access to federal funding or the resources to recover from major disaster events. As we continue to recover from the effects of COVID-19 pandemic and the inequality of loan assistance and resources, Iota has renewed its efforts to help small businesses in our communities.

Starting July 1st, applications will be available and accepted from African American women-owned small businesses in each of the five regions served by Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc. Applications are due by July 21, 2020.

We will award up to 10 micro-grants ranging from $500 to $1,000 to small businesses owned by African American women, with less than 15 employees, to aid in their survival and recovery. The grants are to be awarded by a lottery of qualified applicants on August 8, 2020. To qualify, a business must have been in business for at least one year, have less than $100,000 in annual revenue, and experienced a 25% decrease in revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Greenlining Applauds Small Business Relief in California Budget

Assistance Marks “Ray of Sunshine in a Rough Year”

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 415-846-7758 (cell)

The new state budget about to be signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom provides important relief for hard-hit small businesses, The Greenlining Institute said today. The help will be especially important for entrepreneurs who are people of color or women.

The budget includes $100 million to support the California Industrial Bank’s loan guarantee program that provides financial assistance to small businesses. It also expands of the first-year exemption from the $800 Minimum Franchise Tax normally required of LLCs, a provision which sunsets in three years. The LLC fee waiver will boost small business creation by low and moderate-income entrepreneurs, who tend to be disproportionately people of color and women, by giving them the same ability as wealthy entrepreneurs to protect their personal assets in case their business fails.

“These provisions represent some small rays of sunshine in a really tough budget year,” said Greenlining Institute Economic Equity Director Adam Briones. “As our state faces one of the worst economic crises we have seen in a decade due to COVID-19, and the racial wealth gap only continues to grow, it’s more important than ever that small businesses owned by low-income people of color have all the help they can get in both building new assets and protecting what they have. Ultimately, this means more jobs and prosperity in communities dealing with unprecedented economic challenges.

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Les Dames d’Escoffier International Establishes the LDEI Relief Fund

Les Dames d’Escoffier (LDEI) has a newly established LDEI Relief Fund, created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on women in the culinary industry. The LDEI Relief Fund will provide funding to established 501(c)(3)’s, non-governmental agencies (NGO’S) and other recognized international nonprofits benefiting women impacted by COVID-19 and other disasters globally.

LDEI is an organization of women leaders in food, beverage and hospitality whose mission is education and philanthropy for the good of the global community. The LDEI Relief Fund priority is to extend assistance to established nonprofits or non-governmental agencies (NGO’s) who provide essentials and services to benefit women impacted by catastrophes.

Bev Shaffer, LDEI President, said, “The newly formed LDEI Relief Fund stems from the Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles of Les Dames d’Escoffier International. As a preeminent global professional association, we strive to inspire, advance and support women in food, beverage and hospitality to achieve excellence in leadership and philanthropy and are committed to creating lasting change in our communities through focused philanthropy.”

The LDEI Relief Fund grants will be made for one year or longer given specific program priorities. LDEI will ask applicants to request amounts meeting the needs of the program that is consistent with the organization’s capacity and other anticipated or received support. Additionally, LDEI will support capital requests that help meet compelling community need and offer a broad social benefit to women.

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xtraCHEF Introduces xtraCASH to Help Restaurants Improve Profits

The restaurant management software provider introduced the foodservice industry’s only free automated invoice processing and cost management solution to help restaurants earn extra cash

xtraCHEF, a financial and operational restaurant management platform, today announced a new product called xtraCASH. The company has combined their industry-leading invoice processing technology with a limited set of cost management features free of charge to put restaurants in the best position possible to make a speedy recovery in the wake of a global pandemic that has disproportionately impacted restaurants.

xtraCHEF customers who sign up for xtraCASH can digitize their invoices and automatically match line-item purchase details to eligible cost savings programs. The company’s partnership with the Buyers Edge Platform, one of the largest Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) in the foodservice industry, gives their customers access to rebates on over 165,000 eligible products from over 350 manufacturers.

“As our industry ramps back up and reopens its doors, we are doubling down on our mission to empower restaurants to improve profitability,” says Andy Schwartz, Co-founder and CEO of xtraCHEF. “Now more than ever, operators need tools to better run their businesses. By making our invoice digitization and recognition software available free of charge, we’re giving any restaurant the capability to better monitor their spend, make more informed purchasing decisions, and ultimately, improve margins.”

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Submit Your Restaurant for Post COVID-19 Recovery with Todd Graves

NEW TV DOCUSERIES “RESTAURANT RECOVERY” IS NOW CASTING America’s most iconic and diverse restaurants, eateries, bakeries, craft breweries that are currently in need! Join philanthropist and entrepreneur Todd Graves, founder and CEO of Raising Cane’s, as he travels to cities across the country to help restaurants that are suffering or on the verge of closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I

In this uplifting and timely docuseries, TODD WILL HELP 20 DIFFERENT RESTAURANTS WITH A $2 MILLION RELIEF AND RECOVERY BUDGET ($100,000 PER RESTAURANT) build back what they once had leading up to the enforced closures.

With his decades-long experience building and running Raising Cane’s, Todd’s all-encompassing approach will assess each restaurant’s most needed areas of improvement, whether it’s Culinary, Marketing, Finance or a Facility remodel — his 360° strategy will be completely customized to each unique situation.

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Diageo Announces $20 Million Community Fund to Support Social Justice in America, Helping Black Communities and Businesses Recover from COVID-19

– Global beverage leader announces “Diageo Community Fund” with $20 million of support for businesses, consumers and partners across the hospitality industry

– Through targeted donations Diageo will help address the disproportionate social and economic impact of COVID-19 on Black communities and businesses

– Company reinforces commitment to inclusivity, diversity and zero tolerance for racism and injustice

Continuing its efforts to support under-represented groups and communities, especially those in the hospitality industry who have been so badly affected by COVID-19, Diageo today announces the creation of the Diageo Community Fund. With a commitment of $20 million, the Fund will help address the urgent needs of Black communities and businesses who have been disproportionately harmed by Covid-19.

The new Diageo Community Fund will support businesses, consumers and partners integral to the hospitality industry in Black communities across the U.S. This will include a combination of targeted donations supporting advocacy efforts as part of the economic recovery from Covid-19, training for business owners and employees, relief aid and more.

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Wines of South Africa USA Launches Industry Podcast and Virtual Tastings to Support Sommeliers

Wines of South Africa (WOSA) USA, the industry association that promotes the exports of South African wine, is proud to announce the launch of two initiatives aimed to offer continued education and awareness of South African wines, as well as support out-of-work sommeliers: the Wines of South Africa Podcast and WOSA Somm Sessions. The latter offers consumers a sommelier-led virtual tasting experience geared to their own tastes and selection of South African wines.

The Wines of South Africa Podcast runs bi-weekly, covering a different aspect of the South African wine scene with each episode. Clarke interviews different members of the South African wine industry and its advocates, including winery owners, winemakers, importers and sommeliers. The first episodes have explored Méthode Cap Classique, the country’s signature sparkling wine; the Swartland wine region; Stellenbosch and its flag-bearer variety, Cabernet Sauvignon; and Pinotage, respectively. Upcoming episodes include Chenin Blanc, to be released on June 19, just in time for International #DrinkChenin Day on June 20, and the Hemel-en-Aarde wine region, released on July 3. Future episodes will focus on the Constantia wine region, Old-Vine wines and chardonnay.

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