Maria del Carmen started her business with just $20. Now the owner of Estrellita’s Snacks sells her chips in over 500 stores throughout the Bay Area.
“I’m so glad when they like my food. It makes me so proud,” del Carmen said through a translator. Estrellita’s Snacks sells Salvadoran food, specializing in pupusas.
Del Carmen is one of 85 vendors taking over Folsom Street in the Mission today to deliver their dishes to patrons at the fourth annual San Francisco Street Food Festival. Immigrants own 60 percent of the businesses.
Linda Green, the chef of Ms. Linda’s Soul Food, is known as the “yakamein lady” back in her hometown of New Orleans. She traveled to San Francisco to be part of the food festival and serve her signature yakamein, a traditional New Orleans beef noodle soup.
“It’s called ‘Old Sober’ because it’s supposed to alleviate the pain of a hangover,” Green said.
Shellie Kitchen, the chef at the Brass Knuckle, said her food is inspired by music. Her dish named Goat-Gos was inspired by the Go-Go’s. “We’re really excited to be here,” Kitchen said as she stood outside her food truck.
“We’re all about chill vibes and chill times,” said chef Justin Yu. “We play in-your-face music and serve in-your-face food, but at the end of the day we’re here to have fun.”
At the Nojo booth, chef Greg Dunmore is serving California food with a Japanese influence. His Hayes Valley restaurant is small, and he was excited to create a “portable Nojo kitchen” for the food festival. Today he will serve a tonkatsu sandwich, Japanese cucumber salad and Nojo iced tea.
At Yect and Merlin’s Catering, chef Luis Estrada said a love for cooking runs in his family. Instead of playing with cars, his young son wants only to cook — he even has his own chef coat. Estrada’s catering company serves Salvadoran and Peruvian food.
Nearly 80,000 people attend the Street Food Festival each year. This year their number included District 9 Supervisor David Campos.
“I love food,” Campos said. “My goal is to try as many different things as possible until I get full.”