Behind the Scenes of SF Street Food Festival with Caleb Zigas

August has been a food-lover’s dream in San Francisco: first it was SF Chefs, then the fantastic food and drinks at Outside Lands. Now, one of San Francisco’s most popular events, the SF Street Food Festival.

I recently sat down with Caleb Zigas, Executive Director of La Cocina, to talk about this year’s event, some exciting changes and how to handle the masses that are expected again this year. We’ll also preview four smaller producers this week who all work with La Cocina, getting the backstories behind the dishes they will be presenting at this year’s festival.

The newest feature of the SF Street Food Festival is the Night Market, which will be held on Friday, August 17 at the Alemany Farmer’s Market (100 Alemany Boulevard).

“If you travel around the world, one of the most vibrant food scenes you see is at night markets at various destinations,” Zigas said. “We want to create that same thing in San Francisco and feel we have plenty of resources to do so. We think this can be a more regular event going forward.” There will be limited parking available on site but the best bet is to grab the free shuttle from the 24th Street BART Station.

PHOTOS: 2011 Street Food Festival

As for the festival itself, Zigas said that first-timers should not be intimidated by the expected large crowds.

“Come with a group of friends, download the Street Food Festival App, plan ahead and try out different spots,” he said. “Then designate a meeting place and share everything that you grabbed.” By the way, this is the first year the app will be available (for both Android and iPhone) and it allows users to make lists of the foods they want to try, share it with friends and receive notification of any special offers.

With so many people to feed (crowds are estimated at over 80,000 this year), Zigas said he has heard complaints about having restaurants as vendors, especially those outside of the Mission District. “But think about it. What other event allows everyone to get a taste from gourmet, brick-and-mortar restaurants from all areas of San Francisco along with some of the best street food and other food vendors in the city. This event is truly the best of both worlds.”

The 2012 SF Street Food Festival kicks off on Friday, August 17 with the night market and continues with the festival itself on Saturday, August 18. More info.


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