There are few pervasive stereotypes about the Bay Area, the place we love and call home, that doesn’t exactly paint it in the best picture. How you have to strike it big in your twenties with a startup to make something. That a 4-year stay in Palo Alto is the only way to go, everything important happens with some taps on a keyboard or swipes on a phone.
Hear us out – we swear we’re done with the tired cliches. We’re down with that – a lot of us here fall right into those categories. But we’re also down to stand with the opposite. After all, our whole mission is to foster culture within your walls, while hoping it leaks out into the areas surrounding them. So naturally, we’re all about getting some of the culture from the outside to jump back in.
That’s why we love La Cocina.
They’re dedicated to fostering the culture that put the place we all love to live in on the map – namely a diverse, welcoming, and above all else super damn delicious one. They take what makes our home special – unique takes on worldwide concepts, a can-do attitude, and a willingness to start fresh – and make it feasible for people who otherwise may not have that chance.
The main reason we get along? Love.
Well, our love for them – the passion every business coming out of their walls is impossible to deny. And the amazing dishes their collective cranks out. Every person in La Cocina shares one common trait. One that doesn’t care where you’re from or who you are. Passion. Everybody has it for something, and the lucky ones get to pursue that for a living. Which is exactly what La Cocina is all about enabling.
Here’s what it’s all about
Ever had that big idea, minus the big investors? The big dream without the support? Or just heard of somebody doing something rad, something you wish more people could experience, but don’t know how to make it happen? La Cocina is the solution for that in the food industry. Finding people who already have mastered their craft, cooking up dishes everybody lines up for, but don’t know how to take the next step. It’s a commissary with a cause. More than a kitchen, it’s a space to get connected, to learn how to grow.
We all know that one secret food truck, or person slinging amazing food out of their apartment. And yea, it’s nice to be in the know, to have that cool secret knowledge. But let’s be real – it’s nicer to have those people become true success stories, able to share their love from the kitchen to the world at large.
They hook it up so their talent can do the same for you.
The cooks have the talent. It’s the other stuff that’s hard to navigate. Scaling up. Distribution. Finding brick and mortar spaces and getting the word out. La Cocina sets that up – a commissionary dedicated to getting people bigger commissions.
Each year, La Cocina takes in ten to twelve entrepreneurs looking to make it in our competitive hard to break into space. Predominantly women and immigrants, eager to share foods they learned how to perfect from all over the world, starting with less than $5000 in capital. And it gives them a chance to share their skills with our communities, giving them the flavor that makes them stand out.
This gives our old neighborhoods a new taste of success
Bringing foods we take for granted now, like Alicia’s Tamales or Bini’s Momos, to a wider audience. Namely, you and us – and we’re hungry for more even when we’re stuffed. It helps create a platform where the authentic foods everybody loves and wants to find can succeed and find their ways into the bellies of people who didn’t even know they craved it.
In the past six years alone, 23 physical locations have been launched, all coming straight out of the La Cocina model. Not to mention the other success stories of people who’ve used the platform to launch successful distribution and catering deals.
It’s changing the paradigm of where amazing food comes from.
Our area, even the country at large, has fully embraced a food culture. But too often the very people who invent, perfect, and have always loved the dishes that burst onto the scene are left behind. La Cocina’s changing that. In 2017, two out of the top five Rising Star Chefs in the San Francisco Chronicle come straight from the commissary.
More of a math person? We get it. Big numbers are a tangible way to show how great taste pays off. Through Chewse alone the entrepreneurs from the program have earned over a million dollars since we’ve started working together.
It’s continually expanding in multiple ways – dishes, diversity, dynamic experiences. All helping keep the Bay Area true to its roots as a world-class destination created for, and by, people from all over the world. The San Francisco Street Food Festival was born out of their walls, and there’s a good chance the amazing thing you ate at any other city celebration was as well.
You get it. It’s a pretty sweet nonprofit. But you’re here for the food.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the places we serve fresh out of La Cocina to get your mouth watering:
There’s nowhere on Earth with taller peaks than Nepal, and to many people who’ve tried the popular Momos cooked up by Bini food can’t be elevated any higher either. The dumpling dishes may get the most hype, but the locally sourced spices cooked in the traditional Nepalese manner raise the taste profile of every dish served.
One of our most popular choices and we know exactly why. Amazing tamales surpassed only by the woman who creates them. Alicia has managed to pursue her passion and elevate her family to become a full-fledged force in our culinary scene, producing wholesale to companies such as Whole Foods.
Dali isn’t the only Salvador who’s created high art. And at D’Maize the options are less open to different interpretations – it’s straight up amazing Salvadorian Pupusas. Well, there’s more, but that tends to be the star of the show. Everything comes from recipes passed down and perfected over the years, all sourced from a network of family-owned farms.
If you clicked the link you’re craving authentic Mexican right now. We’ll be 100% honest right here: the name is a bit disingenuous because “good” is selling it short. All the favorites, all made by hand. And maybe even some you didn’t know were your favorite yet – if you haven’t tried Guisados yet the time to do so was yesterday.
If you’ve tried them, you know it’s not a charity
Unless you think of it as one for your taste buds. It’s a way to help the incredibly talented, smart, and tough as hell people get a foot in the door. And thank whatever you want to thank for that. Because at the end of the day, everybody who tries any, or all, of the dishes from their kitchen is going to be grateful.
That’s why we’re grateful to work with them.
P.S If you want to support La Cocina, check out their upcoming event, A Week of Women in Food. It is a 7-day dining experience, intersecting with International Women’s Day, in celebration of the voices, talent & food of some of the best chefs (like Preeti Mistry and Traci Des Jardins) and winemakers from across the Bay Area. Check it out!