This year the Women’s Foundation of California celebrated the holidays by taking a cooking class at La Cocina with Maria Flores, owner and cook for Estrellitas Snacks. Maria taught us to make chicken and spinach tamales. Beyond good food and holiday cheer, we also celebrated our role as the fiscal sponsor of La Cocina. The idea for La Cocina came from a donor at the Women’s Foundation of California, who owned an abandoned building in the heart of the Mission district of San Francisco.
As a resident of the Mission district, this donor (who wishes to remain anonymous) often bought delicious food from street carts. Impressed by the talent and hard work of the food vendors, she decided to donate her building to assist low-income food entrepreneurs leverage their skills and create sustainable businesses. So she met with the Women’s Foundation of California. We believed in her vision and worked with her to transform her building into a commercial kitchen. In 2005, La Cocina opened as an affordable commercial kitchen space that incubates low-income food entrepreneurs.
Judy Patrick, President and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of California, described her experience as a fiscal sponsor of La Cocina. “One thing that was really special about [fiscally] sponsoring La Cocina,” she told me, “is that we were able to help a donor realize her dream.” This year, the Women’s Foundation of California celebrated the holidays by recognizing the visionary women we work with and making tamales at an independently run and affordable commercial kitchen that is currently incubating 32 businesses.