New Flavors, New Beginnings at La Cocina's Holiday Market

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A scene from 2021's holiday market at La Cocina's Municipal Marketplace in San Francisco.  (Erin Ng)

Tiffany Carter’s journey started on the literal streets of San Francisco. Having grown up in Bayview, she began slinging gumbo in jars out of the trunk of her Honda Civic when she was in her early 20s. From Lakeview to Fillmore, she’d serve up customers who ordered by calling, texting, or finding her on Facebook.

Since joining the Mission-based, woman-owned incubator La Cocina in 2018, the 40-year-old chef and mother has been able to expand her soul-food business, Boug Cali. After initially operating out of her mom’s tiny, outdated Bayview kitchen, Carter now serves her dishes at Chase Center. She also has a stall at La Cocina’s Municipal Market, the first food hall in the country led by mothers, and even employs her own daughter, a 22-year-old graduate of San Jose State University, in a part-time role.

It’s the sort of hustle that Carter’s proud of as a born-and-raised San Franciscan—and one that embodies La Cocina’s larger mission. “I hope that I am a symbol of hope for other mothers, entrepreneurs, Black women, and minorities,” she tells KQED.

A scene from 2021's holiday market at La Cocina's Municipal Marketplace in San Francisco. (Erin Ng)

That dedication will be on full display at La Cocina’s Holiday Market fundraiser on Saturday, Dec. 10, featuring Boug Cali alongside six other businesses. A trademark variety of authentic foods, drinks, cultures and crafts will be served at La Cocina’s indoor space in the Tenderloin; highlights include Los Cilantro’s pozole rojo—the traditional Mexican red chile broth with pork and hominy—and Kayma’s coca, an Algerian puff pastry filled with simmered ground beef, onions, and tomatoes.

“We really want highly motivated individuals with a vibrant spirit and a food product that isn’t only unique, but an extension of themselves,” says La Cocina’s Michelle Magat, about the businesses they work to support. “Tiffany is that. [Her business is] a reflection of her life.”


At this year’s Holiday Market, Carter will serve her signature plates of West Coast-influenced soul food—such as California-style crispy tacos (Creole-seasoned ground beef served on a fried corn tortilla with red beans as a side), chicken and andouille sausage gumbo (made from her Alabama family’s recipe, with the option of blackened Bay lobster), and the Bonfire wrap (a choice of jerk chicken, crispy shrimp or crispy avocado with Baja sauce, pico de gallo, jalapeños, Jack cheese and mixed greens rolled into a flour tortilla).

In addition, the Market will welcome an array of holiday craft vendors, as well as Fluid Cooperative Cafe—a trans-owned and staffed coffee and pastry business.

“Our organization is just a bridge for systemically undervalued and under resourced communities to reach their full power,” Magat says. “It’s a big risk to [start a new business in San Francisco]. It really is a journey. We’re in communication with them since day one. That’s how the world should work.”

La Cocina’s Holiday Market takes place on Saturday, Dec. 10, from 11 a.m.–4 p.m. at the Municipal Marketplace in San Francisco. Admission is free; donations encouraged. Details here.