NorCal Celebrates International Women’s Day With Female Food Entrepreneurs

Regional Marketing Manager Janine Beydoun, Lubna Dahbour, Bon Appétit CEO Fedele Bauccio, “Mama” Lamees Dahbour, and General Manager John King at Uber

San Francisco is home to an incredible nonprofit incubator called La Cocina, whose mission is to help low-income food entrepreneurs — primarily women from communities of color and immigrant communities — as they formalize and grow their businesses.

Alicia Villanueva of Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas and Bon Appétit Food Program Manager Emilie Zanger passing out samples of chicken and vegetarian tamales at Adobe – San Jose

La Cocina provides affordable commercial kitchen space, industry guidance, and access to market opportunities. Dozens of La Cocina–mentored female entrepreneurs have gone on to become successful Bay Area brands, including 26 brick-and-mortar establishments.

For International Women’s Day, Northern California Regional Marketing Manager Janine Beydoun had an idea. Why not celebrate some of these up-and-coming women and offer them greater exposure around the region through a series of in-café pop-ups?

During the week in which International Women’s Day fell, guests at Twitter, Adobe – San Jose, Genentech – South San Francisco, Williams-Sonoma, and Uber had the chance to meet some of the women behind Oyna Natural Foods, Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas, Mission Boricua, Peaches Patties, El Pípila, Mama Lamees, and other La Cocina–developed businesses, and enjoy a taste of their food.

Mira D’Souza, owner of Queen Pickle, at Williams-Sonoma

Twitter played host to five, including Brenda Guerrero, who along with her sister and mother offer artisanal cuisine from Guanajuato, Mexico, through El Pípila. Brenda worked with Chef de Cuisine Esther Paek to offer tacos de nopales negro (cactus tacos) for lunch for all the Tweeps.

Meanwhile, over at Uber, “Mama” Lamees Dahbour and her daughter collaborated with the Bon Appétit team to serve turmeric roast chicken with jalapeño and cucumber; mujaddarah (vegan lentil–basmati rice pilaf); a falafel wrap; and a mixed green salad with parsley-mint olive oil, lemon juice, and spices. Mama Lamees is of Palestinian origin and was born and raised in Kuwait; her catering melds the flavors of Syrian, Jordanian, and Palestinian cuisines.

Hundreds of guests, including Bon Appétit CEO Fedele Bauccio, enjoyed the chance to meet these La Cocina entrepreneurs. Their passion and commitment in the face of incredible odds was inspiring to all.