Today, La Cocina — a San Francisco-based business incubator for low-income food entrepreneurs — is kicking off its first-ever Restaurant Week, including seven nights of special dinners celebrating the voices, talent, and food of chefs across the Bay Area. Each dinner will be hosted by a female La Cocina entrepreneur in collaboration with another local celebrated chef, and we at OpenTable are thrilled to be a partner.
In anticipation of La Cocina Restaurant Week, we talked to Jessica Mataka, who heads up communications and development for the organization. Read on for inspiration on entrepreneurship, empowering women, and celebrating community.
What’s the story behind La Cocina Restaurant Week? Why did you decide to start it?
I think it’s two-fold. One reason we wanted to host this week was to pay tribute to the incredible entrepreneurs who have graduated from our program and the impact that La Cocina has had on the Bay Area. There are now 23 brick-and-mortars that have come out of the La Cocina program, and most people don’t realize we have that many spaces.
Also, to highlight our incredible entrepreneurs who put out great product, and who, despite all of the challenges — how expensive it is, lacking resources — come into a position of ownership. We feel really strongly about the power of that and of them being leaders in community. They serve as examples for other immigrants and people of color, to expand their ideas of what they think of being possible for themselves.
Because our entrepreneurs come from low-income backgrounds, we think there’s a misconception about the quality of their food or what people should pay for it. They’re not always covered in the media the same way other chefs are. By hosting an event that pays tribute to the pride of their work, we can celebrate them for the incredible chefs that they are. [Read more…]