Not only does the Bay Area food scene provide amazing dining experiences, it also does good for the community and world. Let’s look at five local groups that are doin’ good work in the world.

La Cocina – “Cultivating Food Entrepreneurs.” We first worked with the La Cocina incubator for El Huarache Loco with owner Veronica Salazar’s magnificent take on the flavors of Mexico City. You don’t have to travel to MEX to taste some bold DF flavor! It’s located just over at the Marin Mart! First of all, go there. It’s delicious. Secondly, props to La Cocina for bringing Veronica and a host of diverse culinary projects to life that may not otherwise have found the resources to get something going in the exorbitant (don’t think this is an exaggeration, unfortunately) Bay Area market. La Cocina operates on the 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.”Here’s a list of their graduated businesses. We know you’re hungry.

Cala – We’ve written about this before but damn if it’s not worth revisiting! Gabriela Camara opened Cala in 2015, another Mexico City goddess of food, this time with an ambitious take on higher end Mexican cuisine. It’s a beautiful, airy, Meyer sound developed space that definitely conveys the hip vibe of the Condesa or Roma Norte barrios of Mexico City. We love all of these things, but they’re not what put Cala on our list. For that, we just have to look at their hiring philosophy. With the lack of staff generally available in a saturated restaurant climate, Camara and co-owner Emma Rosenbush look a little deeper for talent. About 70 percent of the staff is recruited from Delancey Street, the San Francisco Adult Probation Dept. and other similar rehabilitation centers in the area, providing work opportunities for a community that generally isn’t considered as a legitimate talent pool.  Cala is doing good on many levels and we are proud to be a part of their project.

Food Runners – The mission of Food Runners is trifold: to help alleviate hunger in SF, to help prevent waste, and to help create community. Founded in 1987 by Tante Marie’s creator Mary Risley, an incredibly down to earth and saucy advocate for culinary activism, it has been awarded “Humanitarian of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation, and the program provides 5,000 meals per day from over 450 restaurants, caterers, grocery stores and other businesses. You can donate money of course, here, or join the community and volunteer. And if you don’t already know Mary, may we suggest acquainting yourself with this masterpiece: Just Put the F&*%ing Turkey in the Oven

CUESA – If you have ever enjoyed the magnificent Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, then you have enjoyed CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture).  They are committed to “cultivating a sustainable food system through the operation of farmers markets and educational programs”.  They have great classes like the upcoming Knife Skills 101 on April 9th . Really, their website is a veritable cornucopia of incredible farm to table events, articles featuring producers and artisans, and, well, good ol’ food porn. It’s a Bay Area food treasure.

CHEFS – ECS, the Episcopal Community Services, has an incredible project that provides safe housing, and counseling services to a sizeable percentage of the city’s homeless population, in and of itself a noble task. But the unique part of this program is the culinary training it provides from professional chefs, preparing the students to work in actual pro kitchens upon graduation. This site gives a sense of the scope of ECS and particularly the CHEFS program, and if you’re looking for a really fabulous way to get involved, you MUST attend their annual fundraiser, Summertini (coming up June 3rd!). Get yourself a lil’ dolled up, taste food & signature cocktails from top establishments all over the Bay AND the CHEFS kitchen, and join the fun of the auction for a chance to bid on unique items like private chef dinners, custom bespoke suits, and rare wines for your collection.

For a city that places so much importance on food, these kinds of programs speak to a larger sense of progress. And we’re thrilled each and every time we get to participate in bringing them to the world or helping to sustain them.

If you hold dear any food-related programs that could benefit from our services, please do get in touch. You can just hit reply! We offer reduced rates for certain projects that fit the scope of culinary community development.