We had the good fortune of connecting with Erika Ponzo and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Erika, how do you think about risk?
Everything is a risk. There are no guarantees that putting all of your money, hard work and skills into a business will be successful. At any minute the customers could stop coming and you loose everything. This thought Is always stewing in the back of my mind. But I have to stay positive. Stay positive and work your butt off is the best way to be successful.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I had a fun and unique path leading up to my role as a business owner. I have had the great privilege of knowing a girl from France who we met as a foreign exchange student. We became like sisters and have visited each other countless times. Needless to say she turned me on to cheese. One afternoon, in Silver Lake, I came across a cheese store! I came to a halt and ran in begging for a job and I got it! That was game over. After working there I knew I wanted to own a restaurant. Food was the key! Thanks to my boss Chris Pollan, I began my education in food and refining my palate. My next job was at the Park in Echo Park. This was a real kitchen. Here I was allowed to further my education on cooking and managing and kitchens. Again, thanks to my boss Josh Siegel, I learned and was able to open my restaurant. Yup! Josh and I partnered up and Monte 52 was born.

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.
There are so many places to see in Los Angeles, it would be hard to narrow it down. But right now I need some open air and would love to show off our beaches. First I would take my friend to get breakfast at Long Beach museum of art. Then take Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Santa Monica Pier and enjoy the fun there. After jump back on the PCH and enjoy a sunset dinner at Paradise Cove!

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?
In running a business there are a few chores that are extremely important but definitely not the “fun” part of the job: employees and keeping your books. Thank God my husband is a professional book keeper! I can’t tell you how munch time and energy I saved just handing him receipts and invoices. And any time I needed to know a number, I’d ask and he’d have the answers. Knowing your numbers is essential!

Website: OhLaVacheCheese@gmail.com
Instagram: @ohlavachecheese

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.