We had the good fortune of connecting with Christian Davis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christian, we’d love to hear about a book that’s had an impact on you.
From inception, Flavors From Afar has had the goal of helping both the world as well as the communities that the business is connected to. As an extension of the Tiyya foundation, an organization that helps refugees, asylum seekers, and displaced Americans re-assimilate into the country; Flavors From Afar provides work, a source of income, for those in need. With refugees from Somalia, Egypt, Eritrea, Syria and several other countries, Flavors highlights a new menu each month with recipes provided by those who immigrated here and gives them a percentage of the proceeds earned. Since I’ve been with Flavors, I’ve had an emphasis on community over competition, especially during this pandemic. Restaurants are closing and people are losing jobs consistently so collaboration has been essential. Working with pop up pizza vendor Gud Gud to host in front of our shop, working with bakers for our upcoming Ethiopian coffee and Somali tea at the restaurant, we have tableware getting made by local ceramicist Ian Agular, etc… Now more than ever it’s about uplifting each other, combining resources, and strengthening relationships.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve had a unique path getting into the food industry especially since I had no intention of doing so. I always wanted to work in the video game industry growing up and I did! I worked as Quality Assurance and managed my own team at Activision Blizzard and Treyarch when I was 19 and then moved onto freelance games journalism until 25 or so. I didn’t buy a video game for roughly 5 years and got everything for free which was one of the best perks. It took hours upon hours of writing non stop and all day to get to that point but it wasn’t too strenuous. I loved writing and the industry. If you love it, it never truly feels like a job, right? While working freelance, I got my first office job (still gotta make a living) and it required me to wear slacks and a tie. Being that I wasn’t sure exactly how to dress, I started writing and doing my own research to find what worked best for me. I was completely engulfed by menswear and and stopped working in the video game industry entirely. This was a lesson I didn’t expect to learn. Your passion isn’t always what you think it is and I’d been so hung up on working in the gaming industry that I had overlooked my love for the fashion industry. I had always read GQ, Details, Esquire and other publications but I didn’t anticipate a career in that field. I loved that menswear industry more than anything before and it opened up most doors in my life as well. A true surprise for me. Through fashion, I had various modeling gigs, writing jobs, worked with influencers, earned opportunities to travel to different countries, developed my skills in photography, and got access to so many events that weren’t even specifically fashion related. All of this was freelance so I ended up getting a job working in the Arts District at a sustainable and ethically made clothing store named Apolis that now makes market bags for a good cause. Two years later, I met Meymuna who had an opportunity for a food project she was working on….and here we are now! At Flavors From Afar, it feels like the 10,000 hours of working my ass off paid off all at once as it truly is a skeleton key to any industry.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Some of the most fun places to visit in this city happen in the most unexpected locations. Gardena has some of the best Hawaiian Food at Aunty Mailes. I have friends go there anytime their here. Huge portions, incredible flavor and everything they make is so addicting you can’t stop eating no matter how full you get. One of my favorite bars is located in the Arts District and it’s called In Sheeps Clothing. Japanese hi-fi speak easy located inside of a pizza joint. While we’re on Japan, right up the street from that bar is Inkonito which is a higher end Japanese kobayashi grill restaurant with glorious drinks. I can’t wait to go back there after Covid is done! The Breakroom, a bar in K-town, is so much fun because the entrance is hidden behind a vending machine giving you a unique experience before you even walk inside.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d love to give a monumental shoutout to Sonia Guatemala City, Alia form Somalia, Menal from Eritrea, Toma form Kenya, Moo from Egypt, and Maria from Venezuela. Those are all the cooks I’ve had the privilege of meeting here at Flavors. All have migrated to the United States for various reasons and have sacrificed something to do so. All of their stories need to be heard and each of them need to be admired for overcoming more struggles than most of us will experience in our lifetime. I feel honored to know them and to have the opportunity to help introduce a portion of their culture to an entire city of people.
Marisa Vitale, Lucia Tran