Women Of The Mission, Incubating

kitchen_1.jpgSeveral weeks ago, we enjoyed the national exposure given to the heartwarming tale of Cafe Gratitude. Lo and behold, the Times somehow unearthed an even better San Francisco feel-good story: the Mission's La Cocina.

In short, La Cocina is a shared kitchen space with low hourly rental rates "to provide a platform for women entrepreneurs without assets." In full, it's a business incubator that provides women with a business model, career training, and culinary training, not to mention hope:

“There’s an entrepreneurial gene,” said Valeria Perez Ferreiro, executive director of La Cocina. “And we are finding amazing entrepreneurs who are already cooking or have a product that is so promising that it deserves to be seen in the market and that we think has a chance for success.”

[Veronica] Salazar, 32, was one of the first participants in La Cocina and is one of its bigger successes. Her company, El Huarache Loco, makes traditional foods from Mexico City.

Working with intensity, she needed to produce 700 of her trademark huaraches, the bean-filled cakes, for her weekly booth at a farmer’s market and hundreds more for Carnaval San Francisco festivities over Memorial Day weekend. She also prepared fish and shrimp ceviche as an employee stirred 30 gallons of carnitas in a brazing skillet for a catering job for 100 people.

Aside from wondering what kind of "brazing skillet" can hold 30 gallons of carnitas, we think La Cocina is one of the best things around. They've even got a gourmet booth at the Ferry Building, where they sell their participants' goods, like homemade charcuterie. In fact, given the synergy that inevitably arises when business-minded people share space, we're surprised that incubator kitchens aren't more common: of the 1200 incubator programs in the country, just 19 are kitchens.

And what better place than the Mission to house one?

For Women, a Recipe to Create a Successful Business [NY Times]
La Cocina, Community Kitchen [Official Site]