Last week I stopped by La Cocina where the kitchen was full of women food entrepreneurs and volunteers baking, stirring, wrapping, and roasting—prepping for the annual Night Market and San Francisco Street Food Festival.
These ladies really know about big batch cooking! Bini Pradhan of Bini’s kitchen had made over 15,000 lamb momos (Nepalese dumplings ). “It took 17 volunteers working for over 2 weeks!,” she said. Meanwhile, at least 6 women dressed in lime green tee shirts from Alica’s Tamales Los Mayas scooped and stuffed corn while a giant pot of crimson-colored jamaica (hibiscus tea) by Chiefo’s Kitchen boiled on the stove. Mariko Grady of Aedan’s fermented Foods, broiled pans of chicken yakitori while Azalina Eusope, a beloved Malaysian food entrepreneur, folded crepes with her crew.
The room was full of energy, purpose and hope. La Cocina, a non-profit incubator kitchen, is all about hope: Its mission is dedicated to ” changing San Francisco’s food scape by working with food entrepreneurs doing what they love to do.” In addition to providing state of the art kitchen space, La Cocina also provides mentors, business classes, and a real community.
“la Cocina was born out of a belief that a community of natural entrepreneurs, given the right resources, can create self-sufficient businesses that benefit themselves, their families, their community and the whole city. The food that has come out of this kitchen and the whole city since 2005 reflects that aspiration and, quite simply, tastes amazing….As a result of these businesses and La Cocina’s support, community jobs have been created and thousands have been introduced to the flavors of the world. As a testament to their quality, the businesses of La Cocina sell their products locally, regionally, nationally, and even internationally.”
The festival and the Night market brought together the Mission community as well as chefs and food enthusiasts from all over the city. In addition to the La Cocina businesses, the 80 plus vendors included booths by local businesses and some of San Francisco’s most beloved restaurants.
A gift, provided by la Cocina at the Night Market, included this lovely quote by Cesar Chavez:
“Las Personas que le dan su comida, le dan su corazon.”
which translates to
“The people who give you their food, give you their heart.”
Over the next few months, we will tell stories (with recipes!) of many of these big-hearted people.