University of La Verne

Do College Students Need More Life Skills?

It all started on the golf course. Early last year, I attended the Northern Trust Open at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. As I was wandering around the clubhouse, I ran into Mark Brian Smith, the filmmaker who produced and directed “Fear No Fruit,” the documentary about my mom and our family business. He had with him a longtime personal friend Simon, a banker. As per usual, we shook hands and exchanged business cards. So I guess I was a little surprised when six months later I received an email from Simon, who had changed banks, inviting me to be the keynote speaker at a CEO summit. As it turns out, his new bank, Union Bank, is a sponsor of the CEO Summit at the Continue Reading

Ooo-la-la!

Have you ever met someone (in business) who was just so nice that you wanted to work with them? Well, that’s how we got into the “ready-to-eat” crepe business. You know, those delicate, very thin, slightly sweet “pancakes” that are just perfect with sliced strawberries and fresh whipped cream? (Yum, I’m getting hungry just writing those words.) Well, back in 1986, this French guy, Herve LeBayon was introduced to us by another supplier. Herve (pronounced “air-vay”) was from Brittany, France, and moved to the United States because he wanted to … Continue reading

Living Life

My mother Frieda Caplan with my uncle Paul Steffen and cousin Michael Silver “What a big, big life he had. And how he loved life, loved living, loved people. Never have I seen anyone come close to his excitement about being alive.” This is what was written about my Uncle Paul. My “Crazy Uncle Paul” (as we lovingly referred to him) passed away this week at the ripe age of 88. My mother’s brother has lived in Rome, Italy, since the 1960s. Over the years, many of us in our … Continue reading

The Horseradish Holiday

I jokingly refer to the Jewish holiday of Passover as the “horseradish holiday.” (As a wholesale distributor of fresh produce, it has always been an easy way to inform our retail clients that this is the time of year to stock up on this knobby root.) That is, of course, because horseradish is one of the symbolic “bitter herbs” served as part of the traditional Passover Seder dinner. This year, the first night of Passover starts at sundown on Monday, March 29, and Jews all over the world will be … Continue reading

Asparagus for Spring

Last week, someone asked me why so many people eat fresh asparagus for Easter. That made me think… Is it because asparagus is a spring vegetable, and Easter usually comes in early spring? Is it because it’s a ritual food, related to the Last Supper (the original Passover/Easter dinner)? Is it because supermarkets always seem to advertise and promote it at Easter, which makes consumers buy it? Interestingly, asparagus has a long history that goes back to the third century. Its popularity is probably due to its delicate flavor and … Continue reading