Volunteer of the Month: Michelle Minori

October 27, 2023

Chef Michelle Minori holding a platter of salad at Foodwise Sunday Supper

Foodwise relies on volunteers to help with education programs, and other activities that help fulfill our mission to grow thriving communities through the power and joy of local food. Learn more about volunteer opportunities here. You can also sign up for our next volunteer orientation on January 10, 2024, here.

A culinary professional with a long history of working in the industry mostly in San Francisco, Michelle Minori first volunteered with our Foodwise Kids and Foodwise Teens programs as early as 2017, and in 2019, she joined our Events committee to support Summer Bash and Sunday Supper, which raise funds for our free education programs. In between, she was a finalist for season 16 of Bravo’s Top Chef, but she maintains local food and community as at the center of her work.

“Michelle came to Foodwise with passion for food justice, youth education, and sustainable agriculture,” says Partnerships and Events Manager Rebecca Crawbuck. “She has been incredibly generous with Foodwise by supporting our events with her many talents and is humble enough to lend a hand wherever needed. We are lucky to have the opportunity to work with her on our events committee and love having her as part of the team!” Meet Michelle.

Foodwise: Where does your food interest come from? 

Michelle: I’ve always been drawn to the magic that happens when people gather around food. When I was a kid, my father had a garden that we helped with. I’d watch him make jars of pickles and salsas with joy. He’d send us out into the neighborhood to distribute them to our neighbors, who would send us back home with treats of their own making. It was one of my first experiences of community. I wanted to recreate that feeling through doing work that gave me a chance to make someone’s day even just a little bit better.

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

Michelle: I serve on the board at Farming Hope, a culinary job training and food justice nonprofit. They run a paid, transitional employment program that helps adults transition to personal well-being while nourishing food-insecure neighbors and rescuing food from going to waste. It’s been such a joy getting to be a part of their mission. I’ll actually be a guest chef at their upcoming fundraiser Hope Feast on November 11th!

I’m also on the chef council for Eat Real, who work to put healthier food on kids’ plates. Sustainable seafood is a huge passion of mine, and I help advocate for it by being a part of the Coalition for Sustainable Aquaculture.

I wear many hats when it comes to work. I currently host private events and offer recipe development and testing, mostly for cookbooks. I also offer consulting for food and hospitality businesses.

Foodwise: Why did you choose to volunteer with us at this time? 

Michelle: I LOVE the mission of Foodwise! Being a chef in San Francisco, I feel blessed to get to work with such beautiful products from our farms, oceans, creameries, etc. And Foodwise is a huge part of making sure that the community has access to it, while also supporting the folks who produce such bounty. I love being able to give back to my community and feel grateful for the opportunity to do so.

Foodwise: What has been most rewarding about your experience with Foodwise?

Michelle:  I help plan the two main fundraising events – Summer Bash and Sunday Supper – for Foodwise. Getting to work alongside the team here with all of the chefs, bars, and restaurants is such a fun and rewarding time. I get to be a part of the action and make sure everyone has what they need to have a smooth and successful event.

Foodwise: What does Foodwise mean to you? 

Michelle: Foodwise is a mindset of being able to acknowledge the beauty and bounty all around us, while also making it more accessible to everyone. Foodwise is the people doing that good work.

Foodwise: Any favorite farmers market foods or home meal prep tips you want to share? 

Michelle: I recommend not planning your meal prep too much if you plan to visit the market. If you’re like me, there’s a good chance you’re going to get inspired along the way and find something beautiful you hadn’t planned to cook. Roll with it and try something new. You’ll most likely be pleasantly surprised.

Foodwise: Any other thoughts?

Michelle: I feel SO lucky to be a chef in the Bay Area and cook with everything our markets have to offer, and to have access to so many farmers markets. Visiting the markets is often the best part of my week. Thank you to everyone at Foodwise for letting me be a small part of that!

Daniel Capra and Michelle Minori at Foodwise Sunday Supper, with the city skyline in the background