CUESA Rolls Out New “Market to Chef” Carts in Partnership with Culinary Agents

June 25, 2015

Just in time for summer, CUESA is excited to relaunch the Market to Chef Program, an outreach and support program for culinary professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area, with support from Culinary Agents, a professional networking and job matching website for the food, beverage, and hospitality industry. Starting this month at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, you’ll see local chefs pushing newly branded chef carts, boldly sporting the motto “Our Chefs Support Local Farmers.”

With more than 350 participating chefs representing 175+ businesses, CUESA’s Market to Chef Program reaches deep into the culinary community. The program supports chefs through exclusive access to priority parking and equipment at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, a quarterly email specific to industry needs, and invitations to CUESA’s cooking demos and fundraisers that increase chefs’ public visibility.

Started in 2004, CUESA’s Market to Chef Program has been critical to the vitality of the 115+ small farms and food craft businesses that sell at CUESA’s farmers markets. When cold-weather days deter home cooks from shopping, chefs reliably arrive to purchase produce in high-volume for their establishments. Some farmers report that upwards of 50% of their sales comes from chefs during certain times of the years.

Chefs also function as ambassadors of farmers to the general public, listing farm names on menus or popularizing an heirloom ingredient in their dishes. “In terms of marketing, restaurants are make-it-or-break-it” for specialty produce items, according farmer Joe Schirmer of Dirty Girl Produce, whose dry-farmed tomatoes have gained broader popularity after appearing on restaurant menus. “Chefs are the trendsetters.”

CUESA’s Market to Chef Program is sponsored by Culinary Agents, a professional networking and job matching website designed for current and aspiring professionals in the food, beverage, and hospitality industry. Culinary Agents’ technology and services are a cost effective way for businesses to source all levels of culinary, pastry, wine & spirits, dining service, and office positions. Culinary Agents has an automatic matching process, which tees up opportunities to talent and talent to businesses, along with tools to support applicant matching, messaging, and management. Their website also enables talent to represent themselves professionally, seek out job opportunities, and get inspired by virtual mentorships. Culinary Agents is active in 30+ cities, working with some of the best talent, restaurants, businesses, schools, and nonprofit organizations nationwide.

Alice Cheng, Founder & CEO of Culinary Agents, chose to partner with CUESA on this program because “CUESA’s Market to Chef Program aligns with Culinary Agents’ mission of helping chefs with industry pain points. Whether it is staffing or finding the right ingredients, Culinary Agents and CUESA believe in providing services and hospitality to those who work to serve others.”

Chefs participating in CUESA’s Market to Chef program cover a wide range of cuisines, dining styles, and business formats, including Michelin star restaurants like Coi, Saison, and State Bird Provisions; corporate chefs from Twitter, Google, and LinkedIn; and catering companies like Paula LeDuc Fine Catering, Taste Catering, and Savory Pear Catering. Local food crafters and bartenders participate as well. (See a full list.)

“Every time I step into the market, I know exactly what produce we should be cooking with,” says Greens Restaurant Executive Chef Annie Somerville, who can regularly be found at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market loading up a chef cart with Yerena Farms berries, Iacopi Farms peas, and other stars of the summer market. “For me, it’s important to be connected with the farmers, to know what they’re growing and what they’re going through.”


CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is a mission-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating a sustainable food system through the operation of farmers markets and educational programs. CUESA manages the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and remains a cutting-edge force in influencing how people grow, produce, and eat food in America.

Pictured above: Chef Anna Derivi-Castellanos of Three Babes Bakeshop with farmer David Winsberg of Happy Quail Farms.