A Vista beauty salon owner who loves to cook has been receiving recipes from his customers as a token of appreciation for nearly 50 years.
Epi Tapia, owner of Epi Center, a hair salon at 702 Mercantile St., found nearly 100 recipes under a pile of papers while cleaning out his office several years ago. This was the start of his cookbook, titled “Epi’s ABCD Cookbook – Already Cooked and Done”. The cookbook is a culinary work, but also a story of some of the locals who contributed to the book.
“This book is a labor of love and affirmation that all of these recipes have been given to me to share,” said Tapia, 80.
“My wife and I entertain often and I love to cook a lot and also experiment with my menu with new recipes, so I wanted to share that with others,” Tapia said.
In fact, Tapia said it was his wife, Virginia, who inspired him to create the cookbook.
Tapia’s cookbook includes 32 of the recipes as well as a short story about each of the women (and one woman’s husband) who gave her the recipes. Each comes with a photo of the finished dish and a copy of the original hand-written recipe, which is often a story in itself.
Recipes range from Mary Jane Lawler’s Chili Con Carne, Peggy Adler’s Spinach Quiche and Ms. Doris Reeps’ “Oh Be Joyful Cake” to Marine Corps Colonel Raymond Knapp’s Wontons (his wife, Jane Ames Knapp, contributed French 75 cocktail with brandy and Champagne), Dynamite Cookies by Kelly Geiger, Persimmon Pudding by Erma Kosanovich and European Cheesecake by Paula Kent.
“When they offered the recipes to Epi, they gave permission to share them,” Virginia Tapia said.
“It wasn’t easy choosing recipes to include in this cookbook,” Epi Tapia said.
Much of the selection took place at an afternoon party several years ago that Tapia and his wife hosted at their Vista home with the help of Chef Chris Smith, an award-winning chef with first place award from the Brandy Association of California and New Mexico. Restaurant Association.
About 50 people were present and 25 recipes were prepared for the guests to enjoy with the French 75 cocktail featured in the cookbook. Guests were asked to give their opinion on the dishes.
“We wanted to choose recipes that would appeal to a variety of palates and personalities,” Tapia said.
As the guests sampled the selection of dishes, they asked for the recipes and Tapia replied, “You have to buy the book to get them.”
“It’s an Americana cookbook, with a variety of tastes,” said Tapia, who grew up in New Mexico and moved in 1953 with his parents to Vista where he spent most of his life. Tapia included two of her own favorite sopaipilla recipes from her childhood.
The cookbook includes a dash of humor. Jane Ames Knapp describes her French 75 cocktail as offering “a quick attitude adjustment”.
There’s a recipe for Elephant Stew from Lucille Cathey, who made Tapia her favorite chocolate pie for her birthday every year. The recipe states: “1 medium or 2 small elephant; 2 rabbits (optional); salt;
pepper; Cut the elephant into small, bite-sized pieces. Add enough gravy to cover. Bake over an open fire for about four weeks at 465 degrees. (This will serve 3,800 people. If you’re expecting more, add the two rabbits. Use only when needed; most people don’t like hare in their stew!)”
Most contributor stories are filled with admiration and gratitude for the friendship. For example, the biography of Margo Hudson (who contributed Brownies, says she “was the wife of a Navy officer. She and her husband traveled all over the world and had a great time; she loved everything She was a woman with a big smile and a big heart She walked like she was walking on her toes and on a cloud, her arms bent at the elbows and her hands pointing up like she was praising God for all his blessings .
Tapia paid tribute to the cookbook’s first person, EF White, for his inspiration in including stories about each of the women who gave recipes. White’s recipe is for a Wassail cider.
Following the Americana theme, the cover is red and inside, the story and recipe titles are blue on the white pages. On the back cover is a pen and ink drawing of a woman, drawn by Annabelle C. Doan, the original hanging on one of the walls in Tapia’s living room.
Tapia, who has won several hairdressing contests, has owned day spas and hair salons in North County for 50 years and has been in its current location for 30 years. He was also an educator and platform artist for Redken and Aveda and was the opening manager of the May Company Styling Salon in the El Camino mall in Carlsbad.
Tapia said he was the stylist and his wife handled the technical side of the salon. She also helped with the publication of the book.
“The most enjoyable contribution to the cookbook was working with the chef and the photographer; prepare the dishes and receive the guests for the evening. I am beyond thrilled that we now have a published book,” said Virginia Tapia.
The couple are inducted into the Vista Historical Society in mid-May for their significant contributions to the community. The Tapias, who will celebrate their 55th anniversary in September, have been involved with the Vista Historical Society, the Vista Public Library, the Avo Playhouse and the Moonlight Amphitheater.
Virginia Tapia, who has lived in Vista all her life, was CEO of the Vista Chamber of Commerce from 1989 to 1999. She has served on the Vista Economic Development Association, North County Tourism Coalition, North County Transportation Coalition, North County Chamber of Commerce Association. and served on the Vista Community Clinic Board of Directors. She received proclamations from city, county, state, and federal authorities. She was named Woman of the Year by the Vista Chamber of Commerce in 1988 and later Woman of Achievement by Soroptimist International of San Diego.
Epi Tapia’s community involvements included serving on the board of directors of the Vista Town Center Association and volunteering as chair of Vista Fireworks, Chili Cookoff and Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
“We want to thank everyone who has supported us,” Tapia said. “Thank you to all of my wonderful salon guests for sharing their recipes with me over the years.”
Tapia plans to donate a dollar from the sale of each book to the Relief Fund for Ukraine.
The book can be ordered from amazon.com for around $19 to $25 and from walmart.com for $21.55. It’s also at the Epic Center and Barnes & Noble.