Emiliana Puyana '00
Emiliana is Project Manager at La Cocina, a non-profit kitchen incubator, which helps low-income women, primarily immigrants, enter the food business. At any given time, Emilia oversees 30+ food businesses, all in various stages of development and production. In addition to the commercial kitchen space, La Cocina helps participants with every aspect of starting and maintaining a food business, from business plans and bank loans to retail space and marketing. In 2015, La Cocina celebrated its 10th anniversary. In that time, it has created over 1800 market opportunities for its participants’ businesses. Emiliana was exposed to La Cocina when she herself was working to develop a food business: Jarred SF Brine, pickles made from a large variety of vegetables using only locally sourced organic ingredients, which were a Good Food Awards winner two years in a row. Jarred pickles were sold at markets and food stands around the city, as well as the yearly San Francisco Street Festival, which was organized by La Cocina to promote their businesses. A long-time resident of the Mission District, Emiliana remembers the very first Street Food Festival: “There were ten vendors in one block for the one-day festival. Each year, it grew and grew until finally it outgrew the Mission District.” Now a two-day festival, it was recently purchased by a major event planner and moved to Pier 70 along San Francisco’s popular waterfront section, which was a major victory for La Cocina: “Not only are they promoting their own businesses, but it is an opportunity for them to prepare and serve side-by-side with the highest end restaurants.” Emiliana gave up Jarred Pickles as her responsibilities at La Cocina grew, but she is now one of the co-chairs for the pickled category of the Good Foods Awards.