Por Todos, teaching Spanish-speaking bar and hospitality pros
A brilliant team have put together “Por Todos”, a program educating spanish-speaking professionals of the bar and hospitality industry.
Together with Lush Life we take a look at how bartenders Damian Diaz and Othón Nolasco combine their strengths, talents, and forged industry relationships to leave hospitality endeavors, dreams, and bars better than they found them: out of this union Por Todos and No Us Without You were born.
Por Todos is a first-in-the-industry bar and hospitality education series for Spanish speakers. This virtual programming aims to bring together and advocate for the dynamic and inspiring Spanish-speaking beverage professionals while raising money to help feed families of the hospitality community in need. How it came to be is a heart-warming story of action and dedication.
Call them game-changers, tastemakers, young Turks, and son of a dog, though they’d prefer to be called bartenders; just don’t call them mixologists. Herein lies the essence and charm of Damian Diaz and Othón Nolasco of Va’La Hospitality. While some would concentrate on the titles and awards that come with being creative dynamos, these two remain focused on the enthusiasm and joy of hard work done well.
Va’La Hospitality was in fact born out of a sincere desire to give back to the bartending and hospitality industry.
Photo: Damian Diaz and Othón Nolasco
Por todos and No Us Without You LA : working hand in hand for the Spanish-speaking community
In 2020, they agonized over how undocumented workers affected by COVID-19 would feed their families — and so they acted. In just 24 hours, Damian and Othón created No Us Without You (NUWY) LA, a 501c3 public charity providing food relief to the most disenfranchised hospitality workers affected by the pandemic. Using their own money, the partners discovered they could feed a family of 4 for one week for just $33.
NUWY L.A. transformed Va’La Hospitality’s Boyle Heights office into a food distribution center. Currently, they distribute 160,000 lbs of food every week. Donations have enabled the two partners to provide pantry essentials and fresh produce to back-of-house staff such as dishwashers, line and prep cooks- keeping alive the heart and soul of the restaurant and bar industry.
Launched to feed 30 families a week, NUWY L.A. provides food security for over 1,600 families. Damian and Othón offered food relief packages through 2021 to show undocumented BOH workers that they are not forgotten. They are not in the shadows. They are seen, heard, and respected.
Photo: Damian Diaz and Othón Nolasco working
While NUWY was taking off, Lush Life Founder and CEO Lindsey Johnson started following their non-profit work. Previously introduced to the incredible bars Va’La created, Johnson loosely knew what the boys in L.A. were up to, but when a longtime friend of Va’La, Nickle Morris, told her about the efforts to feed families, her interest was piqued.
“I was so impressed with the way they took action in the face of adversity. I knew we had to find a way to work together. At first, I made donations, bought merch, and watched as they devoted their lives to feeding those we typically leave behind. When we looked at our Portland Cocktail Week Distance Learning programming, it became clear that there might be a more ongoing way we could help NUWY, and it involved something we were both passionate about….cocktails,” says Lindsey Johnson.
Lush Life partnered with No Us Without You and Campari America (Lush Life thanks Marie Christoffersen, who immediately backed the program) to create a digital learning series entitled Por Todos, bar and hospitality education for Spanish speakers, taught in Spanish. The program came to life through the Portland Cocktail Week Facebook page.
Photo: Damian Diaz and Othón Nolasco during an online class
Several times a month, Damian and Othón take turns hosting Spanish-speaking bar professionals, teaching and discussing various topics. Videos of each class are available to watch afterward on Facebook and YouTube.
Some classes focus on bartending techniques; others exemplify how to bridge the relationship between the kitchen and bar to foster creativity in a restaurant setting. There are discussions about empowerment, community, and plenty of wisdom about owning and operating a bar or restaurant.
“I’m so proud of the work No Us continues to do both on PDXCW and for their community. Our gratitude to Campari America for making these classes possible and, in turn, supporting NUWY,” Lindsey Johnson said.
How to Stay Up to Date with the Por Todos series?
Learn about the upcoming Por Todos class by subscribing to the PDXCW newsletter and following Portland Cocktail Week on Instagram (@pdxcw).
Please share this with your Spanish-speaking colleagues. By supporting the Por Todos series, you also support NUWY and its mission to feed more families.
If you would like to learn more about No Us Without You and how you can provide direct assistance, please visit https://www.nouswithoutyou.la/
To learn more about Va’La Hospitality and the incredible work they do, check out https://www.valahospitality.la/home
Don’t drink and drive. Enjoy responsibly.
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