San Antonio’s restaurant scene may be having a breakthrough year, but it wasn’t always that way. It took the work of a dedicated food community to bring Alamo City into the national spotlight. Luckily, those same trailblazers are doing their part to ensure the city stays cooking for years to come.
The latest effort comes from Chef Cooperatives, a nonprofit coalition of San Antonio-area chefs and food producers founded in 2014 to help grow the local farm-to-table movement. On November 9, the group will be firing up Bites for Business to benefit an organization many members credit for their success.
Held at LiftFund at 2007 W Martin St., the event is attracting marquee chefs including Stephen Paprocki (Texas Black Gold Garlic), Adrian Davila (Davila's BBQ), Sara Lauren Hinojosa (Honeysuckle), Paul Morales (Smoke Shack Meat Market), James Canter (Guerrilla Gourmet), Jeff Wayne White (Tucker's Kozy Corner), Christina Everett Werley (Creations Catering), and Dave Terrazas (San Antonio Botanical Garden).
They will be joined by Alamo City breweries Islla St. Brewing, Community Beer Co., and Freetail Brewing Co.; Texas wineries Kuhlman Cellars, Farmhouse Vineyards, and Vinovium; and event co-sponsors Compost Queens and Truckin’ Tomato. Highlights of the dazzling locavore menu include Southern pad Thai with fermented green tomatoes, ancho braised Akaushi short rib, and a chai spice milkshake for dessert.
According to Paprocki, it was a “no-brainer” that the Chef Cooperatives should raise money for Launch San Antonio. Formerly Cafe Commerce, the organization has helped hundreds of area entrepreneurs start their enterprise or grow their current venture.
“It’s not just throwing an event, it’s throwing a spotlight on that group that benefits,” Paprocki said. “We’re just wanting to help other people.”
Paprocki is just one of the Chef Cooperatives members who has gone through Launch SA’s Break Fast and Launch program, which began in 2015 as the nation's first culinary business accelerator. The entrepreneur credits the program for providing him with resources, networking, skills, and confidence to sustain Texas Black Gold and its commitment to sourcing from area farms.
Launch SA director Ryan Salts describes the organization as “a 3-1-1 for small business and entrepreneurship."
“We provide all of these services for free so as to help elevate the entrepreneurs that San Antonio is curating and attempt to guide as many people towards sustainable success as possible with the least amount of hiccups,” Salts says. “We are not industry specific nor do we have a pre-qualifying set of needs for someone to work with us — we can work with business owners in all stages and any vision.”
But it is the organization’s commitment to helping food businesses that the chefs hold in particularly high esteem. According to Launch internal survey conducted last year, Break Fast and Launch has helped about 80 percent of its enrollees to stay in business.
Salts uses one of Paprocki's terms, "one team, one goal,” to describe how important it is for organizations such as Launch SA and Chef Cooperatives to work together for the greater good of the community. Although Launch SA receives some city public funding for basic operations, it heavily relies on funding through private and other sources, and on benefits such as Bites for Business.
“We are helping each other create a more vibrant business community and more vibrant food community that will elevate the city as a whole,” Salts said.
Tickets for Bites for Businesses are $45 and on sale here.