Behind-the-Scenes at the Food Festival

Whole Foods had a street market area with vendors selling food and other goods at smaller booths. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

La Cocina’s sixth (and final in the Mission) San Francisco Food Festival was in full-swing on Saturday morning, and Mission Local got a behind-the-scenes look at some of the vendors La Cocina has helped out.

Executive Director Caleb Zigas said that the festival was meant to celebrate the “entrepreneurial spirit of the women involved in La Cocina,” a non-profit that helps low-income women find ways to cook and sell their food.

La Cocina has been running the festival since 2009 as a way to put their clients on the same footing as more famous chefs. “Someone selling pupusas from her kitchen is the same as a James Beard award winner,” said Zigas.

He added that La Cocina takes care of the marketing and branding during the festival, so that the vendors can focus on the food.

Supervisor David Campos made it out to the media tour, saying that San Francisco has the fastest growing wealth inequality in the nation and that La Cocina and the festival ensure that “people who are left out are given the opportunity to benefit from [the city’s] prosperity.”

La Cocina, he said,  has gone “beyond the call of duty” in helping the community, adding that the festival “tells a story about what’s happening in the city and in the neighborhood.”

But that neighborhood will no longer host the festival, Zigas said, as it is an expensive affair (in labor hours) and has taken a toll on the area.

“Throwing an event like this exceeded our expectations, but it also exceeded our work expectations,” Zigas said. “It’s a 36-hour imposition on our neighbors, so we’re going to try to find another space to do this next year.”

Where is unclear. It will be one with less of an impact on the residential area and with more space for additional vendors. And, Zigas added, “a space where we can carry our beers in public.”

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