As a hair stylist for more than five decades, Epi Tapia realizes how much influence and kindness that women provided him during his life . Even down to how his clients would surprise him with their favorite homemade soups, casseroles, salads, beverages and desserts they shared particularly during the holidays.
“I wanted to honor these women who gave so much to me and my wife Virginia,” Epi said. “The gifts of food and beverage meant a lot, but so many also became part of our family.”
Epi would often ask for the recipes after trying the dishes, and then tuck them away in his desk. One day he realized he had collected nearly 100 recipes over the years. The scattered pieces of paper soon became the perfect way to reflect on the loving spirit the women had passed along.
Epi’s ABCD Cookbook was born. The publication is part cookbook, part mini biographies about the women, and part lessons learned from a life well-lived. Many of the original hand-written recipes appear alongside the back stories about the ladies who shared them.
Cooking (and life) instructions tucked into the 33 recipes included in the book come from Jean Packard, wife of long-time California Congressman Ron Packard; Paula Kent who co-founded the Redken hair products company; and many local citizens from every walk of life.
The cookbook's next mission
Now the cookbook has a second act as a fundraiser to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. Virginia and Epi are donating $1 from every sale.
“It makes my soul feel good,” Epi said about the book. “Not only can we do something to help in Ukraine, but others will help too when they purchase the book.”
The book is available during normal business hours at the Epi Salon, 702 Mercantile St., Vista, and online at Amazon, Walmart and Barnes & Noble.
While Epi collected the recipes, Virginia was the mastermind who edited and managed the book’s publication. “I didn’t realize how much work would be involved, but it was a labor of love,” Virginia says.
Chef Chris Smith, who worked with the Tapias on the cookbook, prepared all the dishes during the selection process. Smith is an award-winning chef whose career has spanned running his own French restaurant, the banquet chef for several major hotels, and as a corporate chef for senior living facilities.
James Jaeger’s photos capture the beautiful dishes that include intriguing names like Elephant Stew, Oh Be Joyful Cake, Caviar Pie, Cottage Cheese Pancakes and Faux Vegetarian Chopped Liver.
Vista is home to these proud citizens
Launching a cookbook is another achievement for the long-time Vista residents who will celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary Sept. 3. Virginia is a Vista native, and Epi’s family moved here in 1953.
The couple are enthusiastic supporters of their hometown and continue to be active in many civic groups. Their contributions to the City were recently honored with induction into the Vista Historical Society’s Hall of Fame!