SeriesLIVE

Un Solo Sol

What's Good In Your Hood
Comedian Felipe Esparza joins us as we sample the world in this Boyle Heights fresh food factory.
Show transcript
00:00
Started in my bedroom.
00:03
We tried to provide an alternative menu to the community that
00:06
incorporates the traditional flavors, converted as healthy
00:10
as possible in bringing in new flavors.
00:13
I'm Darian Santana and I'm all about good food, great people
00:18
and the stories that make us proud to be where we're from.
00:21
And later, our dude Felipe Esparza shows us around his hood
00:25
up, dining in a zoo and take out it's real people cooking, right
00:33
So these are our winner and the she off your lap like your finger
00:38
is good because we're about to see what's good in you.
00:49
What's up?
00:49
I'm Darian and we're in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles at.
00:53
So, so we didn't get food from the Middle East, Central America
00:56
South America Asia all in your hood, but let's check it out
00:59
Yes.
01:00
Yes, y'all.
01:00
What's good in your hood is all about the hustlers changing
01:03
their community for the better.
01:05
And today we're in the capital of East L A Boyle Heights.
01:08
We're a small kitchen is changing the community from the inside
01:12
I typically get that.
01:14
They actually kind of remind me of the, that my mom used to make
01:17
So if you've never been here.
01:18
I would totally recommend the really, really good flavor
01:21
really filling and it's also supporting local businesses
01:24
OK.
01:24
This is what set out most to me on the menu.
01:27
Vegan, so flavorful vegan and Peruvian perfection.
01:35
Boyle Heights is a predominantly working class Mexican neighborhood
01:39
in East L A.
01:40
Carlos has managed to engineer a vibrant restaurant, bringing
01:43
healthy options to a historically not so healthy community
01:46
in real talk.
01:47
The food is so damn good means unity in a single word.
01:55
I came from El Salvador.
01:56
I was basically leaving because the conditions in El Salvador
02:00
were detrimental.
02:01
There was a war going on related to political issues and positions
02:05
It is bringing my awareness, my sensitivity, my parents thought
02:08
that I, that I was under threat and they decided let me go to
02:11
the United States.
02:12
My sister and I were living with an aunt.
02:14
I went to Los Angeles City College, got my a degree in science
02:19
and also mathematics.
02:20
And I graduated as a mechanical engineer in 1988.
02:23
You've now been here for eight years approximately and now
02:27
you're an engineer.
02:27
What happens then?
02:28
OK.
02:29
In the engineering field that what I was studying had to do
02:32
with going and building airplane.
02:33
I didn't go that route.
02:34
I started developing muolo soul food services through the
02:38
internet.
02:39
From my bedroom, I have never seen a more diverse menu ever
02:43
How do you have a menu?
02:44
That's this type?
02:45
And also so healthy.
02:46
For me, it's more like unity but a unity that is dynamic.
02:50
A unity that brings about the dignity in this case of the different
02:54
culture.
02:55
And that's why all of those different cultures, I would like
02:57
to bring them here in the little restaurant that we have.
02:59
Our menu is like a metaphor for how we can all deliciously live
03:03
together.
03:04
My biggest influence in the menu is on the ingredients.
03:07
I'm trying to bring more seasonal even fresh the plates itself
03:12
don't go anywhere because when we come back, we're gonna learn
03:14
how to make vegan.
03:16
Yep.
03:17
I said vegan, we put you guys on the map.
03:20
What a lot of people talk about is the green.
03:23
Mm What stood out to me on your menu was because I love that's
03:27
a traditional Peruvian dish.
03:28
But if I go out to eat with my vegan friends or my friends that
03:31
don't eat red meat, they can't have no, they can come here and
03:35
I can have it over with the meat and they can have the mushroom
03:37
That's very exciting.
03:40
This place was actually perfect for us because I don't eat
03:42
dairy.
03:42
So they had the vegan options and he eats everything so he was
03:45
able to eat whatever he wanted.
03:50
It's a bullet in front of plaza Mariachi.
03:52
Who to bunk it.
03:54
I'm in the kitchen of this is a busy kitchen because you guys
03:57
make up with meat.
03:58
You make vegetarian and you make vegan options of pretty much
04:00
everything.
04:01
But today we're making vegan.
04:03
That's right.
04:03
Marie from, uh, Mexico will show us how to make the green enchiladas
04:09
Let's do it.
04:10
What goes in a vegan.
04:22
So, as the veggies saute, the tortillas are nice and warmed
04:25
up and ready to be maneuvered into an enchilada.
04:30
This meal is like packed, it comes with rice, beans, salad
04:34
and of course the enchiladas, green sauce totally matches
04:38
with vegan enchiladas.
04:39
Oh, that looks so good.
04:42
Oh, I hope you didn't think those vegetables were going to
04:43
waste because she tops it with the veggies too.
04:46
Yeah, super fresh.
04:48
And I'm about to tell you how super delicious it is.
04:54
Mm The sauce is nice and tangy and it's spicy and of course the
05:02
veggies are cooked perfectly and you can just smell the Mexican
05:06
spices in the rice.
05:08
Mm So good confession.
05:12
I'm anything but a vegan but I could totally get down with a
05:15
vegan.
05:15
Enchilada.
05:20
I'm taking this Boyle Heights is a changing neighborhood
05:23
It was originally part of Mexico in the 18 hundreds known as
05:26
Blanco or White Bluff.
05:28
This neighborhood is above 90% Latinos with people and new
05:32
developments and businesses moving in and capitalizing
05:36
on cheap rent while driving locals out.
05:38
There's a lot of controversy in terms of the ification or the
05:42
gentrification of Boyle Heights.
05:43
What are your thoughts on that?
05:44
Gentrification is a very semantic term that it was put together
05:49
in my opinion by the power structure to make it more appealing
05:53
to what is going on because the gentrification gives in the
05:56
mind of a lot of people like my dirty community is gonna become
06:00
a new Paris.
06:02
Do you think that is part of gentrification?
06:04
Uh No, but it has been conceived like that, the vast majority
06:08
of the community loves us so has been well received by the the
06:13
first five years of operations in this place.
06:16
We were going to be removed from here because it was going for
06:20
sale and it was sold.
06:21
But they didn't remove us with all the movements, with the
06:25
with the community itself and the organizations, we were
06:28
able to stop the development of the plaza and to make Metro
06:33
negotiate with the community while it was going to be there
06:36
They have seen us in the rallies, they have seen us struggling
06:39
with them.
06:40
They have seen us with a 25% discount for the community.
06:44
So it's impossible that the vast majority will not love.
06:49
So and on top of that, since I didn't have any money at the very
06:52
beginning to do advertisement in a small business.
06:56
You don't do advertisement, you're unknown.
06:58
I attach to the community with something that I call it community
07:03
dinners for $5.
07:05
That's the way that the community was brought in.
07:07
Does that still exist?
07:08
You have a 25%.
07:10
So if you're from Boyle Heights, you get 25% off Yes.
07:13
If you, if you show it on, on your ID.
07:16
Absolutely.
07:16
Yeah.
07:17
This man cares about his hood through the hard times brought
07:21
on by living in a working class neighborhood.
07:23
Latinos laugh so good bud Felipe Esparza took us to his old
07:28
stomping grounds to give us an inside look.
07:30
And I have a stepson, you know, he's 12 blonde hair and blue
07:35
eyes, everything I wanted in the sun.
07:39
I'm raising my own cosigner, bro.
07:44
What was it like to be back in your hood?
07:45
Well, I grew up right here.
07:46
It is Boyle Heights.
07:47
I call it the, the capital of East Los Angeles, the Mecca right
07:51
here of Latino immigration.
07:53
All my jokes come from this neighborhood.
07:56
You were born in Mexico.
07:57
I was born in Mexico.
07:58
When did you migrate here?
07:58
Oh, I came here when I was five.
08:01
Tell me about this area though.
08:02
You said it's, this neighborhood always has been a place for
08:05
immigrants.
08:06
In the beginning.
08:07
There were nothing but Jewish people here like in the 19 forties
08:10
after the Jewish came, Mexicans took over and it's all me and
08:14
it seems like Mexicans stayed, we stayed, we ain't going nowhere
08:18
And then after that, the in 19 eighties, uh people from Central
08:22
America came here as refugees of Salvador, Nicaragua.
08:25
And that's my mom right there.
08:28
You guys don't know this, this is my mom's mom.
08:32
My mom.
08:35
No, this is my mom.
08:39
You don't know who are you gonna meet here.
08:41
So, yeah, man, I know everybody in the neighborhood here.
08:43
You run into my mom right here.
08:45
So what do you think?
08:45
Uh what do you think of the neighborhood now?
08:47
You know, a lot of people talk about gentrification, gentrification
08:50
Do you feel like you see that?
08:51
You feel that the neighborhood is always changing?
08:53
People come people go.
08:55
But this is like uh a lot of people say, oh it's a bad place to
08:58
live.
08:58
But if you grew up here and this is your home, you don't see the
09:03
bad.
09:03
You see the good.
09:04
Well, thank you so much for being here for telling us your story
09:07
and for coming back to your hood.
09:09
Thank you for having me man.
09:09
Next time we'll go to East L A.
09:11
That's where I wanna go.
09:12
East L A.
09:13
What's up everybody?
09:14
It's challenge time.
09:16
I'm here with Carlos and I'm gonna challenge him to the first
09:18
ever.
09:19
What's good in your hood off?
09:20
And because we're in his hood, the have to be vegan.
09:24
So let's see you ready?
09:26
I'm ready some garlic and of course the plantain gonna be mixing
09:33
everything inside the blender.
09:35
This dish is originally from Ghana.
09:38
The dish is from Ghana.
09:39
But are you gonna be the Ghana daughter?
09:42
Really?
09:43
Oh my God.
09:46
Spread them around by 100 degrees for about 20 minutes.
09:51
My gloves ready time to get this.
09:55
They look delicious.
09:56
So ready guys on the bottom is the apples that I caramelized
10:01
got these caramelized walnuts.
10:02
I'm gonna top it with gram packers.
10:05
We bring in the already baked plantain.
10:07
We put it all surrounding the peanuts.
10:10
And one last detail of this is that we add a little bit of lemon
10:13
to all of those peanuts.
10:15
And why not?
10:16
Cilantro.
10:18
OK.
10:18
Time to show the.
10:20
All right.
10:21
Let's do it.
10:22
I present you.
10:26
So they're both, they're both black.
10:28
Mine's in a boat.
10:29
This is not, hm It's like an orgasm of flavors going down my
10:38
mouth and I'm loving every minute of it.
10:41
Thank you.
10:42
That means the world to me.
10:43
Let's try this.
10:43
Let's try this.
10:45
These beans are just regular beans.
10:47
No, they are peanuts.
10:48
Oh, peanuts.
10:50
This is kale W and it is from uh West Africa.
10:53
So that's the kind of they were eating in Wakanda because it
10:59
has a little bit of lemon.
11:00
I tell you like this is very, very cheap food.
11:07
Oh my God.
11:10
II, I like this.
11:12
I like this.
11:13
OK?
11:14
Because that's like a dessert.
11:16
That's gonna make me more hungry.
11:18
By what I here.
11:21
Oh You crazy.
11:23
Oh my gosh.
11:25
I have dipped it in here, man.
11:27
And OK, ma'am.
11:30
It's a time.
11:31
I'm sorry, man, I think, and let's be real.
11:36
They're delicious.
11:37
They're both amazing.
11:39
You got at the center of Boyle Heights and just across the street
11:44
from is the historic Mariachi Plaza.
11:48
And I met up with my new friend who knows a thing or two about
11:52
singing from the heart about the hood.
11:54
I'm here with Negro.
11:56
OK?
11:56
But how did you become?
11:58
Because you're not the usual Mexican singing dude that I'm
12:01
used to sang a song by Larry Hernandez.
12:04
He's a really famous uh regional Mexican singer and I posted
12:08
a video of it and Larry Hernandez himself saw the song, shared
12:12
it on his social media and was like looking for me and it was
12:15
crazy because um yeah, that was my idol as a, you know, kid right
12:18
now.
12:19
We're at Mariachi Plaza.
12:20
What does it mean to be in Boyle Heights here in a place that
12:23
is so big on Mexican music for me.
12:26
Um said in Spanish, I feel proud to be here because this is like
12:31
this, this is a historical place.
12:34
They took their traditions from Mexico and brought it here
12:36
and made it their own.
12:38
It's like a little piece of Mexico here.
12:39
I mean, I, I love coming out here and the food is good.
12:43
Thank you so much.
12:44
Thank you for sharing your love for the music and the unity
12:47
that you bring to it and you wanna share with everybody.
12:50
That's really amazing.
12:51
No problem.
12:51
That's what I do.
13:03
Just like Felipe Carlos is investing in his community and
13:06
is the pride of Boyle Heights.
13:08
Carlos is more than a restaurant owner.
13:10
He's a neighborhood leader who's uniting a community through
13:13
his food.
13:14
Talk to me about this corner where the mariachis were here
13:19
over 60 years already.
13:20
They were the reason why I created the idea of of is an artwork
13:27
and they are part of it.
13:28
What is your wish for this neighborhood, for this community
13:31
My wish for the community is to continue what they've been
13:33
doing.
13:34
I I see what heights prospering, promoting the small businesses
13:37
in the area is promoting that the means of production will
13:41
be in the hands of the community production, promoting and
13:47
just like the sun that bears its name.
13:51
So, so is illuminating the Boyle Heights community with health
13:55
progress and unity.
13:56
The restaurant is a metaphor for the neighborhood and it says
13:59
we're all in this together under the same sun.
14:02
It beams with a delicious menu of care, culturally diverse
14:06
healthy and points to the sun as a great unifier.
14:10
Thank you so much to Felipe to com and of course to Carlos, the
14:13
height episode was super lit and that's what good next time
14:24
on what's good in your hood.
14:25
We're crossing the border to check out a revolution that's
14:28
happening in Tijuana Mexico.