There’s a small family farm in Rolling Hills that’s been supplying produce for corporate events and private functions for celebrities since 2015. Google, Apple, Facebook, Porsche and former President Bill Clinton are purported to be among clients of Bites & Bashes.
But for founders, mother-daughter duo Julie and Crystal Coser, it’s the local flavor that keeps the business grounded—especially during the coronavirus lockdown.
“Everyone has truly rallied behind us by ordering family meals and placing small catering orders, which allows us to keep our staff employed during such uncertain times,” Crystal Coser said.
Her mom Julie graduated from Le Cordon Bleu with High Honors, and for the past 30 years, she’s worked in the restaurant and catering industry. She operated five restaurants throughout the Los Angeles area and developed a reputation for deftly season cuisine with an international flair.
Crystal graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Economics and a double minor in French and the History of Art and Architecture. She’s worked in the special event and catering industry for more than a decade, planning celebrity parties and large-scale corporate events in Hollywood and beyond. Crystal, a former associate editor of Eater LA, keeps her finger on the pulse of the hottest dining trends in Southern California and incorporates them into the company.
In 2018, the two women opened Bites & Bashes Café in Lomita. The cafe offers regular hours for its catering staff, provides a unique dining experience for restaurant customers, and creates a better infrastructure for small, local catering orders.
The café became so successful that the Coser Family Farm had to expand to support its growing demand for produce, herbs and edible flowers.
The two-acre parcel farm is run by Bites & Bashes CFO (Chief Farming Officer) Russ Coser, aka Dad. The farm consists of a 120-tree orchard that produces Meyer lemons, calamansi—a tiny Filipino citrus fruit, Fuji apples, Fuyu persimmons, jujubes, avocados and Korean pears, and a year-round garden that grows everything from heirloom tomatoes to strawberries to pumpkins, herbs, and edible flowers.
In March, the pandemic changed everything for the mother-daughter team.
“Because we were accustomed to catering for hundreds of people per day, we were hit especially hard by the pandemic,” Julie Coser said. “All of our major scheduled events had to be canceled through the end of the year. The most significant impact was on our staff because the majority of our work no longer existed.”
Since then, Julie Coser said, Bites & Bashes has adjusted their business model. They’re now offering affordable family meals that feed two to four people. And the fruit and veggies still come from the family farm in Rolling Hills.
“Our goal was to help nourish our community, especially during a time of so many restaurant closures,” Julie Coser said.
At the same time, the women partnered with Off Their Plate, a non-profit founded by a Harvard medical student, which provides economic relief to COVID-impacted restaurant employees while feeding frontline heroes and families most in need.
Through their partnership with Off Their Plate and other nonprofits, Bites & Bashes has served more than 5,000 meals to organizations, including Torrance Memorial, Long Beach Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital, AltaMed PicoRivera, Little Sisters of the Poor, Asian Americans For Housing, LA Mission, and Toberman Community Center.
“The feedback from the hospital workers has been overwhelming,” Crystal Coser said. “Many of them wrote notes thanking us and sharing that our nourishing meals cooked with love were a ray of light during otherwise very dark days.”
The mother-daughter team both said the feeling of satisfaction they received feeding, not only these hospital heroes but hungry families, gave their entire team a sense of pride and purpose, even when their own business was struggling.