TR Robertson — Long time Vista resident and businessperson, Epi Tapia, said he had an “Ah-ha” moment years ago, as he was inspired by his wife, Virginia, to clean his messy desk. In the process of cleaning the desk he discovered many items he had forgotten about, but in finding the items, memories began to flow back. Among the many piles were recipes from many friends and customers Epi had seen over the years as a business owner in downtown Vista. His “Ah-ha” moment would lead to an idea to honor many of the women who had brought in these recipes, as a way to thank them and share with others what they had shared with him. The idea of a cookbook was born, some 30 years in the making.
Photos by TR Robertson
For over 50 years Epi had owned day spas and salons in North County. For over 30 of these years, he had owned the day spa, now a salon, on 702 Mercantile Street, called Epi Centre. Around 18 years ago he had decided to change the day spa to a boutique salon. In the process he redesigned the building, splitting the area with a space in the front, which he rented to the Church of God in Christ. Epi took the back half and created a salon that reflected a private, calm space and atmosphere he felt women would feel comfortable frequenting. The outside patio is lined with succulents and other plants as well as tables and chairs creating an area for relaxing before entering the salon. Epi said he is the stylist, and his wife Virginia handles the technical side of the salon business. Through the years, his customers would bring in items to thank him. Luckily, Epi kept the items and under the stack of paper on his messy desk he found the copies of ninety recipes, many of the customers had shared with him. These would be the beginning of the cookbook.
The cookbook, called Epi’s ABCD Cookbook – Already Been Cooked and Done, has 32 recipes in it along with a short story about the woman who gave him the recipe and for many of the recipes he included the handwritten copy of the original recipe and a picture of the completed food. Epi said he thinks he has close to one hundred recipes and picking the first ones for this cookbook was not easy. He gave credit to the first person in the cookbook, Mrs. E.F. White, for her inspiration to include stories about each of the women and the recipe they had given him.
One of the ways the final decision was made, on which recipes to include, occurred several years ago, pre-COVID. Epi and Chef Chris Smith threw a dinner party where they prepared every recipe selected for the cookbook. Fifty friends were invited to attend, sample each dish and give feedback. Once the recipes were finalized for the cookbook, finding a publisher was the next step. Page Publishing in Pennsylvania was selected. Vista resident James Jaeger was selected to shoot the photography for the cover and the cookbook. The first publication had some issues and Epi said he is waiting for a second printing to correct these mistakes.
He also pointed out that the cookbook is a very American cookbook, reflecting a wide variety of food with great stories. The cover is red highlighting many of the food. The headings about the stories and recipes are blue, almost looking like a blue-ribbon award on 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 Epi’s salon walls.
Epi and his wife Virginia have been involved in numerous committees and organizations of Vista for many years. Virginia once served as the CEO of the Vista Chamber of Commerce, serving in the position for ten years. They both feel service to your community is important. Epi give credit for the cookbook to his wife, saying “I give her all of the credit for being the best partner and me becoming the luckiest man ever to have her in my life.”
Epi plans on having a book release party when the new editions arrive. He hopes to have the books available online for purchase through Amazon and through Barnes and Noble. The Epi Centre is on Facebook.
Epi Centre Hair Salon 702 Mercantile St, Vista, CA 92083 – (760) 941-4234