Volunteer of the Month: Valentina Fung

March 23, 2018

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. We’ll be hosting new volunteer orientations on March 25 (Oakland) and May 5 (SF).

Food is her happy place. That, and the desire to give back to her community moved Valentina Fung to start volunteering with CUESA, “the perfect place to do all of this,” in early 2017. Since then she has given her time at the Jack London Square and Ferry Plaza Farmers Markets, supporting the market to table demonstrations, the info booth and the Party under the Palms: Cocktails of the Farmers Market.

“Val’s flexibility as a volunteer is valuable to us in so many ways, from her willingness to cover a shift at the last moment to the superior service she can provide with her knowledge of our many programs,” says Katy Burnett, CUESA’s Farmers Market Administrator. “Her range of skills has helped us out in a scheduling tight spot more than once.”

Culinary Programs Manager Carrie Sullivan adds, “She is a ‘Jane of all trades,’ and willing to fill in wherever she’s needed. She is always attuned to what needs attention and takes initiative to get it done!” Meet Val.

CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?

Val: My mother is an amazing cook. I grew up eating lovingly prepared, homemade Cantonese meals basically every day; we didn’t go out to eat much. Dinner was always a long-simmered soup, with steamed fish, a meat dish, and stir-fried seasonal vegetables. When I did my undergrad studies at UC Berkeley, my palate opened up thanks to all the different cuisines readily available around campus.

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

Val: I’m usually on my bike, discovering a different part of the Bay Area, or cooking or sampling new food with friends.

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

Val: I love that I get to interact with people from different walks of life at CUESA! From working with fellow volunteers, to helping chefs, to helping tourists navigate their way through the market, I appreciate the opportunity to meet someone new.

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

Val: Meyer lemons—they’re super fragrant, with a complex fragrance, and less acidic than regular lemons. I’ll drop them into water or tea, or use them in my fennel-lemon-thyme roast chicken recipe. I rub the chicken with some salt, thyme, Meyer lemon juice, and olive oil or butter, and loosely stuff the cavity with Meyer lemon and fennel and line the bottom of the skillet with more Meyer lemon and fennel, sometimes adding small potatoes, like new potatoes, or carrots.