La Cocina's Cookbook Celebrates the Diversity of the Immigrant Experience
Since 2005, La Cocina has helped hundreds of women, immigrants, and people of color pursue the American dream through a love of food. The non-profit incubator kitchen, based in the Mission District in San Francisco, offers talented cooks affordable kitchen space, training, and resources so they can turn their home kitchen enterprises into thriving, legal businesses. And since women make up only a third of business owners in the U.S. and earn significantly less than their white, male counterparts, La Cocina is providing much-needed opportunities to entrepreneurs who have a tough time breaking into the food industry.
The women who cook at La Cocina come to the Bay Area from all over the world, including Latin America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. As you can imagine, a trove of culinary wisdom has passed through the incubator’s commercial kitchen in the 15 or so years since it opened, including family recipes handed down through generations and subtle techniques honed during years of home cooking. The talent nurtured here is incredible. La Cocina has helped its clients, which include James Beard Award nominees, open more than 30 brick-and-mortar restaurants.
While We Are La Cocina is a collection of that cross-cultural wisdom, it’s also so much more. The cookbook is organized by people (you can also browse by menu ideas and countries) and includes beautiful portraits of La Cocina’s entrepreneurs alongside personal stories and interviews that ground their recipes in the context of place and tradition. Cooking from this book is like spending an afternoon in the kitchen with these women, listening to them talk about their experiences as immigrants while they chop vegetables and walk you through their most cherished recipes.
Speaking of those recipes, they’re incredible, too. These are the dishes La Cocina’s chefs love to cook and are eager to share. You’ll find everything from rosemary fried chicken, to cheesecake, to pupusas, to new ideas for Taco Tuesday. Kids will love Fernay McPherson’s five-ingredient Mac and Cheese. Guadalupe Moreno’s Tinga de Pollo will become your new secret recipe for using up that leftover roast chicken. And if you’re looking for another midweek meal to add to the rotation, just ladle Isabel Caudillo’s Meatballs and Red Sauce over some rice for a simple, hearty dinner.
“I don't think I could have ever started a business without the guidance of La Cocina,” Mariko said. “They helped shape my passion and dreams into a practical working model from the ground up.”
She shares her famous miso recipe in the cookbook, along with several miso-based dishes. Her personal story, which includes fond memories of drinking miso tea every morning as a young dancer traveling the world, adds a layer of meaning to her recipes that no ingredients ever could. That connection between food and personal experience, especially from the perspective of an immigrant, is what makes this book stand out from all the others.
We Are La Cocina features more than 100 recipes alongside the stories of more than 50 successful La Cocina entrepreneurs. There are plenty of quick, simple dishes (like a go-to recipe for pepitas) that will easily work their way into your routine, plus some more ambitious dishes to tackle over the weekend. Every recipe, regardless of who created it or where it comes from, is cooked with love and shared with enthusiasm.
Interested in getting to know the women of La Cocina and cooking their favorite dishes? Preorder the book before June 4th and you can enter for a chance to win $100 in Good Eggs credit.