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Changing the World, One Tamale at a Time

Changing the World, One Tamale at a Time

La Cocina: "Cultivating food entrepreneurs" (Picture from

Leona Taylor | Chef's Blade

In a quiet corner of San Francisco’s Mission District a social movement of sorts is carried out on a daily basis through the mixing of eggs, butter, flour and a healthy dose of philanthropy.

Now in its third year, La Cocina is a small food business incubator focused on providing space and assistance to women who are considered low-income entrepreneurs.

Funded with support from The Women’s Foundation of California, the program includes women from Texas and Mexico to County Cork, Ireland and embraces the idea that supporting and mentoring entrepreneurs not only produces great Baklava, it produces great role models.

Successful caterers, tofu makers, and chocolatiers often go on to sprout new career paths, start businesses, and learn that giving back somehow makes everything taste better.

In addition to creating an affordable alternative to costly commercial kitchen space, La Cocina provides valuable workshops on everything from marketing to mixology. Kitchen rentals are also available to non-qualifying applicants to help fund the project and a weekly booth at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market gives the center an opportunity to highlight their wares. Food Business Incubator (FBI’s) projects in Humboldt County, Taos and Toronto have given much needed capital to an industry that starts in the kitchen, but is capable of bringing the whole world to the table.

Such lofty social goals may be far from the minds of an aspiring wedding cake designer, or plantain chip producer but the spirit of homemade success is more addictive than just any sweet tooth, and it’s meant to be shared.

Just a quick glance at La Cocina’s website brings you women who not only bake, they blog. They are imbued with a sense of excitement and confidence, and plain savvy “know-how” that can be passed down through generations and throughout the community, one tamale at a time.

More information is available at their website.