Meet a man aiding Nepal by working at Rock in Rio

Meet a man aiding Nepal by working at Rock in Rio
Dave Hansen, a restaurateur and chef who specializes in revitalizing and reimagining distressed restaurants properties, is taking the fees his company received from Rock in Rio and donating to relief efforts in Nepal. (Gerrick D. Kennedy / Los Angeles Times)

While Nepal struggles to deal with the aftermath of two devastating earthquakes that have killed more than 8,000 people, one man working at Rock in Rio is using the festival to launch his efforts to help contribute to relief.

When a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Nepal last month, Dave Hansen found himself glued to the continuous news coverage. It was personal for him, having a number of friends living in the small country.


"I was worried about friends over there," the 44-year-old said while walking the festival grounds. "Fortunately, they weren't impacted, but seeing the damage, I became more and more concerned."

After watching gripping video of a 4-month-old baby being pulled from the rubble, he wanted to take action.

Hansen, a restaurateur and chef who specializes in revitalizing and reimagining distressed restaurant properties, is taking the profits his company, Capital Taste Group, received for its advisory role and logistical support during both weekends of the festival to launch his fundraising efforts.

Festival organizers brought on Hansen's Capital Taste Group to provide proof of concept of its cashless wristband system.

Hansen is also providing counsel for lounge installations and assisting the food and beverage teams running the concert's Rollin Smoke barbecue pits.

Rather than collecting his fee, which is well over $30,000 ("I'm quite expensive," he joked), Hansen is donating both the funds and the contributions he's been soliciting. In other words, he's spending two weekends working for free.

While in Vegas, the D.C.-based entrepreneur met with numerous business owners who heard about his efforts -- which he has dubbed the Red Mala Project -- and promised to contribute.

"It's such a tragic thing that happened, why not help?" said John Holland, owner of Rollin Smoke Barbeque, which planned on doubling its initial pledge to Hansen. "We're already really big in Vegas. Why not help out another community?"

Hansen is doing more than writing a check; he plans to fly to Nepal and work with crews in the rebuilding and cleaning efforts.

He said he would assist with the structural engineering and the cataloging of damaged religious artifacts along with constructing and operating a number of feeding stations and mobile food preparation sites and water purification systems throughout the hardest hit areas of the Katmandu Valley.

"Ideally I'm going to go over to Nepal with $500,000 in checks," Hansen said. "The community outreach has really been great."

Hansen says he was originally supposed to travel to Nepal from Vegas at the close of Rock in Rio this weekend, but he now plans on stopping in D.C. for a "last-ditch" fundraiser.

"It's not just a personal connection; I'm fortunate to be able to do something to help. That wasn't always the case for me," Hansen continued. "I'm sitting on an entitled life; they are not. I'm committed to staying over there as long as it takes."

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