Being a Good Innovator

2011 BGI Commencement Speaker Robert Egger

“It’s no secret that I’m mad for BGI, and have a sweet spot in my heart for grads of the program. But once you roll out, and really start to build, or take¬†your careers to the next level, you have to find ways to keep the BGI energy flowing. I learned long ago that love, friendship, jobs…your spirit…these precious resources can become boring, if you let it, which is one of the biggest reasons that I recently left the DC Central Kitchen.

I founded DCCK close to 25 years ago, and during that time, I received just about every prize you can get. How easy would it be the lay back, let others do the work and keep snagging the accolades? Truth be told, its human nature to rest, find a sweet spot and enjoy life. But that’s when the rot sets in. I’ve seen bold leaders devolve into clutching, domineering bore beasts and I swore I wouldn’t let that happen to me.

Which is why I stepped aside, sold our home and rolled west to L.A….to create a brand new business that will be the capstone of my career–the L.A. Kitchen.

This is my business mantra: Look to the future, march out to meet it, and develop models that terrorize normal and set a new standard. This time around, I’m building my model around super healthy food and America’s rapidly aging baby boomers. Check it out:

Everyday we throw away close to 40% of the food produced in America. So, I’m developing a processing kitchen in Los Angeles where we will focus, almost exclusively on attaining some of SoCal’s abundant fresh fruits and produce. We will use these treasures to fuel a job-training program that will pair young men and women coming out of foster care with older men and women coming home from long stretches in prison. Working together, they will produce super healthy snacks, juices and meals, with an emphasis on vegetarian and even vegan meals. But here’s the real deal – as much as I hate to see food wasted, I REALLY hate to see people wasted, and the way we treat our elders in America is just a shame. So, I’m partnering with the AARP Foundation to create a program that will not only focus our resources on providing healthy meals to seniors, we will include them in every facet of our operations. Not only that, we will help partner agencies expand services or create new models–exercise programs, art co-ops, virtual dinner parties…anything that pushes the boundaries of how we value and view our elders in America.

As I’ve said many times…the Baby Boomers have a bucket full of flaws, but they still represent the deepest well of life’s experience in the history of the world.

America is thirsty, and finding a way to draw water from that well is the real goal of the L.A. Kitchen.”

Robert Egger is a passionate nonprofit advocate who founded DC Central Kitchen, the country’s first model of a “community kitchen”, 24 years ago. Egger founded L.A. Kitchen in 2013 in order to provide culinary arts job training for both men and women coming out of foster care, or elderly men and women transitioning out of incarceration. He is also the president of CForward, a nonpartisan advocacy organization dedicated to raising awareness around the economic importance of non-profits. To learn more about Robert, visit¬†




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