Takin’ It To the Street

by

Julie Flynn is the retail and communications program associate at La Cocina.  She man­ages all of La Cocina’s retail sales and handles communications and promotions.  She also supports the pro­gram par­tic­i­pants to help them grow and launch their food businesses.

The summer is in full swing, and the city of San Francisco has exploded with outdoor festivals, fairs, and markets. It seems that every weekend there is some fantastic, often delicious, community event going on in some part of this 7 x7 town.

Relatively new to this scene is the San Francisco Street Food Festival, which will celebrate its second year on August 21st in the Mission district.  The organization behind this much anticipated event, La Cocina, is a small non-profit incubator kitchen. La Cocina provides affordable commercial kitchen space and hands-on technical assistance to low-income and immigrant entrepreneurs who are launching, growing, and formalizing food businesses.

The organization is home to more than 25 businesses and a growing roster of graduates, representing all aspects of local food from bottled drinks born of Balinese wellness traditions and boxes of heavenly chocolates to mobile Japanese street food.  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. The Street Food Festival was born, in part, to celebrate the eclectic foods that La Cocina program participants produce, many of which are best served in a mobile, marketplace environment.

Last year, what began as an idea for a small block party to showcase the mobile food businesses enrolled in La Cocina’s program was soon swept up in the national energy around street food that exploded with the growth of Twitter and smart phones. By the time event day rolled around last August, the little block party had turned into a full blown festival, and even so, the event drew nearly four times the number of people that the organizers had, in their wildest dreams, hoped to attract.  This year we’re prepared for the crowds and have expanded the festival on Folsom St. from 24th to 26th Streets and from 25th Street between Shotwell and Treat Streets, and all of Garfield Park.

Festival participants will enjoy mouth-watering eats, of course, but they will also be provided with plenty of ways to support the festival’s mission of advocating for the creation of policies that help formalize mobile food vending in the city as well as raise money for La Cocina. “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,” said Caleb Zigas, acting executive director of La Cocina and the San Francisco Food Festival coordinator.

In addition to the Street Food Festival,  La Cocina will host the first annual San Francisco Street Food Conference directly after the event on August 22-23. This Conference will entail thought-provoking discussions with expert panelists on the economic, political and social impact of street food vending. Also, join us for a Cart vs. Kitchen brunch at Americano Restaurant, where Chef Kory Stewart opens up his kitchen to some talented street food cooks to see what they can create together for a unique and fun brunch event on the patio.  Tickets for the brunch can be purchased here.

The Festival itself, significantly larger than last year’s event, will present foods that reflect the city’s diverse communities with 45 food and beverage vendors.  From duck tacos to a crème brulee, the festival is sure to satisfy any savory or sweet craving.

The festival will be held August 21 from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. in the Mission District neighborhood.  For more information and tickets visit www.sfstreetfoodfest.com

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One Response to “Takin’ It To the Street”

  1. Andrea Gough Says:

    This sounds amazing – can’t wait to go! Thanks for sharing it.

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