Over the past six years, La Cocina’s Street Food Festival has become a San Francisco staple. The festival features innovative food, education and discussion, and a chance for the SF community to share experience and taste with each other.
At the center of all the flags, festivity, and great-eating are passionate woman. That’s right––along with filling your stomach, the festival is a radical way to support local female entrepreneurs.
La Cocina started in 2005 and is based in the Mission District of San Francisco. The organization provides training, practice-spaces, and support to local food entrepreneurs, focusing on low-income women who want to break into the food industry. Traditionally, working in food can be difficult for those from under-privileged areas, because running a successful food business requires a large overhead cost. And, like so many other industries, being a woman–particularly a woman of color–presents challenges of its own: lower pay and fewer opportunities. Even though San Francisco is the home to many non-male powerhouses creatively running and owning their own business, the public image of a chef is still male.
That’s why La Cocina’s innovative program is so important––it creates space for and amplifies the voices of women who are passionate about food, San Francisco, and their families. La Cocina describes this process, and the content of their program on their website. You can also watch their 6-minute film called “Tameles & Piroshkis: A Journey Stuffed with Love” (but be warned: you might cry). Featured in the video are two of La Cocina’s incubator businesses. Other incubators might be familiar faces to you from MCM––Chaac Mool, Sugarfoot Grits, and HellaVegan Eats are all connected to the La Cocina program.
“[La Cocina] is about the general day to day support,” said Stephanie Fields, owner of Sugarfoot Grits. “During my first outdoor festival they came and stood with me for my health inspection. Health inspections are scary––it’s like Mary Poppins checking the dust under everything. It sounds boring, but that support means a lot.”
What is the festival?
La Cocina’s Street Food Festival is a multi-day celebration of local food vendors and top chefs. This year, the festival will be kicked off on Friday, August 15th, with the new Friday Night Family Meal, which will feature unlimited varieties of fried chicken from 11 different chefs hailing from Seattle, Oakland, Austin, Alabama, and San Francisco.
The main event––a street food festival boasting over 80 vendors––will be hosted on Saturday, August 16th in the Mission District. On Folsom St. between 20th and 26th, the city will be transformed into an urban food paradise. Expect big crowds, big portions, and even bigger smiles.
La Cocina notes on the event page that the most important part of the street fest are the women who “drive and inspire the festival every year and serve food any street, neighborhood, and the whole Bay Area should be proud of. By serving food, they serve the community, and continue to make the Bay Area’s foodscape one of the most vibrant and diverse communities out there.”
Lastly, the La Cocina community is providing a platform to talk about food with the La Cocina Food & Entrepreneurship Conference on Sunday, Autust 17th. The conference includes conversations about fair prices for ethnic food, food manufacturing, how to use food to bring communities together, and interactive workshops! To be part of the conversation, buy a ticket online. Don’t worry––if you want to go but don’t think you can afford it, La Cocina is funding scholarships.
What should I eat?
As much as you possibly can! Make sure to visit MCM’s own HellaVegan Eats, who will be serving potsticker burritos–a sweet and sticky meal packed with rice, vegetables, potsticker skin and wrapped in a tortilla–”chicken” and waffle mini bites, and their incredible strawberry-watermelon-basil aqua fresca (seriously, how does such complex flavor come from water?!). HellaVegan describes their food as a “multi-cultural explosion of flavor,” and their dishes always deliver color and taste. You’ve seen them every Thursday this summer, handing out their hellafornia burritos, crunchy salads topped with tofu or tempeh, and vegan cupcakes to hungry crowds at our mercado.
And don’t miss 4505 Meats, another MCM favorite, who will be serving the festival with “Frankaroni” and cheeseburgers. Last year, their macaroni rendition caused swarms of hungry cheese-lovers to crowd their tent, so be sure to visit early!
If you’re still hungry, finish the day with something sweet––try one of the eight treats from this list by 7X7SF.
At Mission Community Market, we appreciate all of the hard work that our vendors put in. As an event celebrating local talent and dedication, La Cocina’s Street Food Festival is a remarkable opportunity to engage with the SF food community and share light and love with the streets of San Francisco.