San Francisco is full of incredible cooking talent—some established, some still struggling. La Cocina, which supports immigrant women who want to launch their own food businesses, brilliantly taps into that network. It’s 80 volunteers, who range from chefs to CPAs, help women like Cristina Besher of Kika’s Treats, do everything from developing recipes to bookkeeping.
Bion Bartning has figured out an ingenious way to sell foods from small local farms to Manhattanites—all day, seven days a week. His Basis market is a convenience store that carries meat, produce and dairy from more than 40 farms, charging less than farmers’ markets. “There are people who say eggs should cost $9 a dozen. I completely disagree with that,” he says.
CulinaryCorps is Christine Carroll’s version of a Peace Corps for chefs. Since 2007, she’s been leading volunteer trips to areas hit by Hurricane Katrina, particularly New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. So far, six groups of chefs, about a dozen at a time, have gone on CulinaryCorps missions, like teaching at-risk youth about working in a kitchen.
Faced with an overabundance of oranges, plums and pomegranates from trees in her Oakland, California, backyard, Rashidah Grinage had an idea: Hire local teenagers to pick excess fruit in people’s lawns and deliver it to low-income senior citizens. Urban Youth Harvest began three years ago with only four kids; today, it employs 31 of them with the help of grants and the federal stimulus fund.