Get involved

The 2013 Conference has come and gone but there are plenty of ways to get involved in food and entrepreneurship year round. Check out La Cocina’s volunteer page for exciting opportunities year-round.


Tickets for the 2013 Conference are no longer available. Follow La Cocina on Twitter, and check out La Cocina’s Facebook page for continued updates on food and entrepreneurship all year long!

Scholarships available!

La Cocina offers scholarships and tickets on a sliding scale for conference attendees who can’t afford the full ticket price. For 2014 scholarship opportunities, check back here for more information starting in June 2014.

La Cocina’s Food & Entrepreneurship Conference is a space to think about the place of food and entrepreneurship in urban and economic development. It is a celebration of the faces, spaces, policies and technologies and the way they all come together to create a vibrant environment where food businesses can grow and thrive—bringing economic development and jobs to our communities.

The 2013 Conference has come to an end! Check out the information below for a 2013 recap. Pictures from the event are coming soon.

Conference date: Sunday, August 18

Themes/topics: This year, we’re collaborating with the Southern Foodways Alliance to explore a theme of Women, Work & Food.

  • Celebrating Food Entrepreneurship
  • Women Business Owners
  • Diversity in Food
  • Building Communities
  • Leveraging Technology
  • Economic Development and Job Creation through the Food Industry

Target attendees:

  • People who currently own or want to begin food businesses
  • The people who help make it possible—employees of non-profit economic development organizations, city government officials, policy makers, and food enthusiasts in general
  • Other non-profits working specifically within the food industry on job creation

Location: SoMArts (934 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA 94103)

View larger map


  • Food Heritage of the American South Brunch (10:00am-1:00pm): $75
  • Food & Entrepreneurship Conference (12:00pm-6:30pm): $100
  • Brunch + Conference (10:00am-6:30pm): $150

Scholarships are available to the Food & Entrepreneurship Conference to anyone who demonstrates economic need. Please email to apply.


10:00AM – 1:00PM “Southern Foodways Alliance in SF”: A Californian Celebration of the Food Heritage of the American South

Jarred SF Emiliana Puyana of Jarred SF serves bottomless Bloody Marys and mimosas at the 2013 Conference. Photo credit: Anthony Lindsey

Includes a one-hour panel discussion with the chefs moderated by SFA.


This exciting mix of chefs will be setting up stations and making Southern brunch favorites, including freshly griddled pancakes, BBQ pork, Andoille sausage, farm egg casserole, and much more, plus bottomless mimosas & Bloody Marys and espresso drinks & tea.

All proceeds from the brunch benefit La Cocina’s Incubator Program.


12:00PM – 1:00PM Oral histories – Southern food and its culinary heritage

SFA panel From left to right: Fernay McPherson of Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement, Helen Turner of Helen’s Bar-B-Q, Chiefo Chukwudebe of Chiefo’s Kitchen, Amy Evans of The Southern Foodways Alliance, Olivia Velazquez of Eleganza Catering, Maria del Carmen Flores of Estrellita’s Snacks, Alicia Villanueva of Alicia’s Tamales los Mayas, and Dionne Knox of Zella’s Soulful Kitchen share their oral histories about their life in food. Photo credit: Anthony Lindsey

Brunch tickets include this panel discussion.

Moderator: Amy Evans – oral historian at Southern Foodways Alliance


Breakout sessions

  • Track A: Food Industry Entrepreneurs and those interested in starting a food business (all Track A sessions will be translated into Spanish)
  • Track B: Public Sector and Economic Development – Urbanization and Food, Creative Solutions for encouraging business development
  • Track C: Non-profits and Food – Staff of Non-profits working in the food industry

1:15PM – 2:15PM Session One

A) Food writing for business owners

Samin Nosrat Samin Nosrat—writer, teacher, and chef—comments on the nuances of food writing in the modern digital age. Photo credit: Anthony Lindsey

Moderator: Michelle Fernandez – development and communications associate at La Cocina


  • Sophie Brickman – senior editor of Saveur Magazine
  • S.J. Sebellin-Ross – freelance journalist and cookbook author
  • Samin Nosrat – writer, teacher, and chef

B) Improving urban food access

Moderator: Eli Zigas – food systems and urban agriculture program manager at SPUR


C) Setting up shared use kitchen spaces


  • Geetika Agrawal – business development manager at La Cocina
  • Caleb Zigas – executive director at La Cocina

2:15PM – 2:30PM Coffee break and blink-and-you’ll-miss-them talks

  • Blink: Being a female business owner
    Gail Lillian – owner of Liba Falafel

2:30PM – 3:30PM Session Two

A) Financing a food business

Financing a food business Photo credit: La Cocina staff

Moderator: Caleb Zigas – executive director at La Cocina


B) Revitalizing neighborhoods through food

Moderator: Daniella Sawaya – programs coordinator at La Cocina


C) Innovation in real estate opportunities for small business


  • Geetika Agrawal – business development manager at La Cocina
  • Melissa Pesci – architect of Ferry Plaza and Oxbow Market food retail space
  • Debra Resnik – owner of 331 Cortland Street Marketplace
  • Anna Tvelova – owner of AnDa Piroshki

3:30PM – 3:50PM Coffee break and blink-and-you’ll-miss-them talks

  • Blink: What is and why start a B-corporation
    Donna Sky – owner of Love & Hummus

3:55PM – 4:55PM Session Three

A1) Specialty food – how to

Sponsored by The Specialty Food Association


A2) What I wish I had known: a how-to guide on mobile food


A3) What I wish I had known: a how-to guide on sustainable restaurants


B) Innovation in food & technology

Sponsored by General Assembly

Moderator: Geetika Agrawal – business development manager at La Cocina


C) Corporate good: creating non-profit & for profit alliances

Moderator: Caleb Zigas – executive director at La Cocina


5:00PM – 6:30PM Specialty Food Association Happy Hour

An opportunity for conference attendees and panelists to wind down and have informal conversations over snacks provided by members of The Specialty Food Association and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic).

Thank you to our generous sponsors

DPEM Purity Organic San Francisco Cooking School
Cater2Me Runa SF Bay Guardian
Saveur Southern Foodways Alliance FHL Bank
Sensiba San Filippo General Assembly

La Cocina’s Food & Entrepreneurship Conference is supported by the SOMArts Cultural Center’s Affordable Space Program, which provides subsidized, large-scale affordable space and technical assistance to non-profits. SOMArts receives support from the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Community Arts and Education Program with funding from Grants for the Arts/The Hotel Tax Fund. The mission of SOMArts is to promote and nurture art on the community level and foster an appreciation of and respect for all cultures. To find out about SOMArts classes, events, and exhibitions, please visit

Available volunteer roles

If you'd like to volunteer for the conference, please take a look at the available positions below and fill out the volunteer application on the get involved page.

La Cocina’ Food & Entrepreneurship Conference 2013: Volunteer Roles & Responsibilities

Collateral Management

  • Assemble goodie bags
  • Organize registration desk
  • Organize attendee lists
  • Organize name badges
  • Ensure all registration staff have highlighters & pens (La Cocina team to provide)
  • Put up signage


  • Check attendees off lists
  • Accept payment for walk-ins
  • Hand out name badges
  • Direct attendees to meeting rooms, restrooms, etc.
  • Keep notes of concerns/issues/follow-up questions
  • Sell merchandise?
  • Access Control/brunch – make sure attendees have ticket to be admitted to brunch


  • Take “scenic” photos of the room setup, food displays, etc.
  • Take photos of sponsor banners, logos, product placement
  • Take candid photos of guests at the events
  • Photograph chefs at their stations at Sunday brunch
  • Deliver CD of images to La Cocina staff after event

Food & Beverage / Culinary Support

  • Set up food prep areas
  • Assist chefs with food prep
  • Set up meal location(s) with tables, linens, serviceware
  • Ice down beverages
  • Assist with beverage prep as needed
  • Pick up and set up water stations
  • Replenish water stations in meal location(s), as needed
  • During food events, assist with flow of guests, bussing/trash
  • After food events, assist with cleanup/strike

Floater @ Brunch

  • During food events, assist with flow of guests, bussing/trash
  • Ensure chefs have support for replenishment, cleanup, etc.
  • Explain food ingredients in case of dietary restrictions
  • Manage lines / direct guests to areas where there are not lines

Speaker Management / Technical Coordinator

  • Load presentations on main laptop
  • Add/edit presentations if needed
  • Work with AV tech on run-of-show
  • Place table tents for panelists before each session

Mic Runner / Audience Q&A

  • Identify people in audience who have questions
  • Hand microphone to audience member and retrieve after question has been asked


  • Clean up spaces as directed by La Cocina staff
  • Assist food & beverage providers in breaking down/transporting equipment and materials