By Amy Finley '96
Published Oct 1, 2015 8:00 AM
Bruin Kevin Longa's documentaries tell the stories behind great chefs, good food and innovative kitchens.
Behind every enterprising kitchen, every unique dish and every innovating chef, posits entrepreneur filmmaker Kevin Longa ’12, there’s an uplifting story of transformation. Like the former drug addict in Cambodia who became a baker to help rebuild his Khmer Rouge-rent society, or the restaurant in San Francisco where an ex-gang member traded street talk for kitchen slang and a chance to mentor with a top chef.
These are just two of the compelling stories that inspired TASTE With Kevin Longa (tastewithkevin.com), a series of short-form documentaries on entrepreneurship in the global food industry. TASTE made its online debut on July 14 and will have three parts — Europe, The Americas and Asia.
Longa has loved filmmaking since he first stepped behind the camera at age 8, but he’s no fan of the current film industry. “All they’re making at this point are sequels and comic book movies,” says the economics graduate, who started the entrepreneurship fraternity Sigma Eta Pi while at UCLA. So he married his film talents with his love of eating to create TASTE, for which he serves as director, producer, editor, sound mixer — everything, really.
TASTE is rooted in Longa’s precocious initiation into the importance of eating well. He was just 11, and overweight, when he received a nurse’s stern reprimand that he was headed toward type 2 diabetes. Ditching his fast-food diet coincided with a trip back to his ancestral village in China, where his family were honeybee farmers. “It didn’t completely sink in at the time, but I was really influenced by how they enjoyed their food, and making their food,” he says.
TASTE premiered on its eponymous website, but Longa, with the help of fellow Bruin Yasemin Denari Southworth ’05, is pursuing pick-up by digital programmers as new content channels continue to emerge with regularity.
“Entrepreneurs don’t wait,” Longa says.