Volunteer of the Month: Melissa Watson

November 6, 2014

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.

Melissa Watson has found the perfect way to combine her graphic design skills and love for craft cocktails to support CUESA’s fundraising events, which bring in much-needed funds for our educational programs. Since 2013 she’s been a regular volunteer at our seasonal Cocktails of the Farmers Market series, Summer Celebration, and Sunday Supper, helping out at the bar labs, creating menus and signage in InDesign, and pouring beer at the events. “Unfortunately I like to attend more events than my husband and friends do, but eventually I figured out it’s just as fun to work these events as it is to attend them,” said Melissa. “Supporting a great cause is the huge bonus.”

“Melissa is a rockstar. It’s rare to find a volunteer who has graphic design skills, a passion for our mission, and an infectious sense of humor to boot,” says Brie Mazurek, CUESA’s Online Education Manager. “During pre-event crunch time, we’re grateful for her expert design help, and she often sticks around to lend a hand at the festivities. We’re lucky to have her!” Meet Melissa.

CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?
Melissa: Travel! I’ve been lucky enough to travel frequently over the last 10 years. Food and drink are how I enjoy experiencing new cities. I love seeking out the real local spots, from farmers markets to the old restaurants that never sold out to the hot new cocktail bars the guidebooks won’t hear about for months. I’ve had friends who live in New York, Zurich, and Sydney all tell me I have introduced them to some of the best places in their own cities. I have a reputation as the person to ask what you should drink and where to drink it.

CUESA: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for CUESA?
Melissa: I freelance in events and design. I mix cocktails at home. I find new places all around the Bay to walk my ridiculously cute cocker spaniel. I help out at Sutton Cellars in the Dogpatch during tasting hours on the weekends. I attend as much theater as possible, and I’m on the board of directors at FOGG Theatre. Sometimes I even manage to see my husband, who works full time all week and just opened Cleophus Quealy Beer Company in San Leandro.

CUESA: What is your favorite part about volunteering with CUESA?
Melissa: I get to work with the best people in San Francisco! The CUESA staff is so fun and appreciative. My fellow volunteers are awesome, and several of them have become friends I see between events. Working on the cocktail nights with the San Francisco chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild means meeting the faces I see behind bars around town. It’s a winning situation all around.

CUESA: Do you have an insider market tip or a favorite produce item at the market right now?
Melissa: I actually live on the Peninsula so I don’t get to the markets as often as I’d like. When I do, I don’t like to waste any time so I follow CUESA and several of the food vendors and farms on Instagram to get a preview of their offerings. Then I know right where I’m heading when I hit the market.