Names: Michelle Fernández, Leticia Landa, Angela McKee, Daniella Sawaya
Ages: 24, 29, 28 and 24
Gig: La Cocina
Any one of these four women, who collectively run La Cocina, the San Francisco food incubator that provides affordable commercial kitchen space and technical assistance to low-income and immigrant women entrepreneurs, would be worthy of our list. What makes them truly remarkable, insists La Cocina founder Caleb Zigas, is what they’ve achieved as a team: “They kick ass because they work together.” Over the past five years, they’ve launched the San Francisco Street Food Festival; helped create Off the Grid Fort Mason Center; opened a kiosk at the Ferry Building featuring the products of La Cocina's businesses; and shepherded several alumnae into brick-and-mortar restaurants and bakeries. These relentless advocates inspired countless female entrepreneurs and significantly altered the landscape of San Francisco’s food scene - all the more impressive, points out Zigas, considering the statistics about women, particularly women of color, when 70% of food business owners are men and women are paid 25% less in the kitchen. Talk about girl power.
- Program Director Leticia Land studied anthropology at Harvard, and has a background in international nonprofit working in rural southwestern China and Northern India.
- Sawaya, who has worked almost every position at La Cocina, worked on improving accessibility at a farm for children with disabilities in Bolivia and assisted on a slum-upgrade project in the Mathare River Valley in Nairobi before joining the organization.
- Before joining La Cocina to oversee the Retail Program, McKee worked with Food & Wine magazine in New York.
- Bicultural and bilingual, Fernández is the newest member of La Cocina's team, but has already made herself indispensable. In charge of marketing and communications, she’s already revamped the organization’s social media marketing strategy, played a crucial role in its Inaugural Gala and is responsible for all sponsorship of the San Francisco Street Food Festival.