Photo courtesy of New Taste Marketplace.
Amid the pop-ups, underground markets and food truck parties taking place on a daily basis in the Bay Area, New Taste Marketplace stands out with its low-key vibe, terrific vendors and fundraising mission. Held at St. Gregory's Church in Potrero Hill, New Taste Marketplace takes place once a month and features approximately 30 food vendors selling hot dishes to eat on-the-spot and artisan foods to take home. Community members and families sit on the altar and in spots all over the church listening to music and eating everything from Asian-fusion cupcakes to Thai curries and pierogis. "Think of it like an overgrown bake sale," says Elianna Friedman, Market Director.
Customers gain access to New Taste Marketplace by giving a small donation, which goes to The Food Pantry and St. Gregory's to support their efforts to provide food to San Francisco's hungry. Since its inception in November 2010, New Taste has raised over $10,000—money that goes toward a food giveaway that takes place each week at St. Gregory's. "I love that New Taste is held in the exact space as the food pantry on Fridays," says Friedman. "I hope that it adds to the sense of giving and community."
The vendors that you'll find at New Taste are small and mostly only found at other similar markets around the Bay Area. On a recent visit to New Taste, I took home rabbit pate from Dehesa Foods, goat cheese mozzarella from Faerie Goatmother, kimchi from Monchi Foods and wheat pasta from Baia Pasta.
"The same vendors don't come every time, which creates space for new vendors," Friedman commented. "Some vendors outgrow the market, and they move into something more permanent." Markets such as New Taste are serving as incubators for food vendors around the city.
Dandelion Chocolate is a small "bean-to-bar" chocolate company based in the Mission that is about two years old. Alice Nystrom of Dandelion enjoys that the Marketplace gives Dandelion's founders a chance to interface directly with the customer. "We always sell a lot more chocolate when we're able to tell our story," she says. "Customers who come are really curious, they have a lot of questions about our chocolate and our company. They are really eager to see all these small businesses and support them."
Cafe Mereb is one of the few brick-and-mortar businesses that participates in New Taste. It's a family-owned Mediterranean and Eritrean resturant in the Richmond that uses New Taste to market to new customers in a different part of the city, and to test new recipes. Cafe Mereb participates in New Taste every 2 months, and offers Eritrean specialties like a lamb stew called tibsi, a slow-cooked chickpea stew called shurro take-home items such as berbere spices and a ghee-like spiced, clarified butter called tesmi. Elilta Habtetsion participates in the market on behalf of her family's restaurant and sees a lot of value in participating in a market like New Taste. "It's been very positive, and we've seen a few people stop by our cafe. It's great to talk to people one-on-one, and give our restaurant a little more exposure, and we love the venue."
For those curious about how New Taste Marketplace is allowed to exist, while the San Francisco Underground Market was shut down last month by the Health Department, the answer has to do with the fact that the New Taste Marketplace operates under the umbrella of a non-profit organization (The Food Pantry) and is a fundraising event. The "Craven Allowance," the same rule that allows for bake sales, allows New Taste to operate. The Department of Health often drops by New Taste to make sure that vendors are following proper food handling rules.
The next New Taste Marketplace is taking place this Saturday, July 16. New Taste generally takes place once a month.
New Taste Marketplace
Saturday, July 16
Noon - 5pm
St. Gregory's Church
500 De Haro Street (map)
@NewTasteMarket on Twitter
New Taste on Facebook
Interested in volunteering? Contact Elianna Friedman via email: NewTasteMarket@gmail.com
What others are saying:
"The New Taste Marketplace had a nice community feel, like a church bake sale. And it wasn't a massive clusterjam like some other underground markets in the city." - Single Guy Chef
"I had the best Thai curry of my life in a church. Specifically it was the green Thai curry made by the folks behind Nute's Cupcakes that had me over the moon this weekend." - Nicole Grant, The Bold Italic