Volunteer of the Month: Eric Strode

September 26, 2019

CUESA’s Volunteer of the Month program recognizes the dedication and work of some of our most active volunteers. CUESA relies on volunteers to help with education programs, special events, public outreach, and other activities that help fulfill our mission to cultivate a sustainable food system. Learn more about volunteering and sign up here.

With a passion for food, cooking and sustainable agriculture, Eric Strode wanted to share with others how they can impact our food systems in a positive way. Since March 2017, he has been a regular volunteer in the CUESA kitchen and classroom at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. He also supports our fundraising events, such as seasonal cocktail events, Summer Bash, and Sunday Supper.

“Eric has been a wonderful regular presence at our Saturday Market to Table Demos, bringing his culinary skills to help make our demonstrations run smoothly,” says Volunteer and Special Projects Coordinator Cindy Mendoza. “He brings positive energy and a can-do attitude every time he volunteers, including the time he was my sole partner preparing our Summer Bash volunteer family meal. It was a fun, productive session working in the kitchen with him!” Meet Eric.

CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?

Eric: My parents and grandparents are phenomenal cooks and I grew up eating a huge variety of family recipes from my grandparents’ homemade polish cabbage rolls to my mom’s incredible meatloaf (nothing can beat it). I loved getting my hands dirty and helping out in the kitchen making those recipes. At some point, I became obsessed with two cooking shows: Iron Chef America and Chopped. I was inspired by the creativity of the chefs in those shows but didn’t really start cooking seriously until college. Cooking for myself every night helped me to master the basics. At some point, an unknown stomach illness forced me to eliminate nearly everything in my diet until the illness was resolved. Trying every ingredient again from nothing was eye-opening and drove me to explore modernist cooking blogs and communities. At the intersection of science and cooking, I found a deeper passion for food and exploring the vast universe that surrounds it.

CUESA: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for CUESA?

Eric: I’m a software engineer, but outside of work I love to surf, ski and explore the outdoors.

CUESA: What is your favorite part about volunteering with CUESA?

Eric: Being able to meet so many farmers, chefs, CUESA staff members and volunteers that are passionate about food, cooking and sustainability. I always meet amazing people and learn something new when I volunteer. I’m inspired every day I volunteer by the commitment and energy of the CUESA community. It is also great to learn about the different seasonal ingredients available in the market.

CUESA: Can you describe any favorite or memorable experiences volunteering with us?

Eric: I will never forget the morning that I volunteered to make sandwiches and food for victims of the 2017 Northern California fires. There was an abundance of squash from a recent event that I thought was meant for decoration or display. To my surprise they were all edible and extremely delicious. I spent hours peeling, dicing and roasting squash to make sandwiches for those affected by the fires. Knowing that my time and effort was making a huge difference in the lives of those victims was an amazing feeling and something that I will always remember.

CUESA: Do you have an insider market tip or a favorite produce item at the market right now?

Eric: Early Girl tomatoes are one of the best produce items I have ever eaten in my life!