However you want to work with food, whether as a chef, server, bartender, farmer, baker or food entrepreneur, there's a Bay Area organization with the tools you need to make it happen.
Food Safety Certification Courses
Based on SB 602 (2010) and SB 303 (2011) and Health and Safety Code 113790 et seq., (“California Food Handler Card Law”), all food handlers are required to take a food safety training course, pass an ANSI Certified assessment and obtain a food handler card. Additionally, California requires one person-in-charge at each food establishment to be a Certified Food Manager. Further explanation of the regulation can be found here.
If you are looking to get started with food industry work in California, taking an online or in person course to obtain your food handlers card will help you get your first job. If you are looking to advance to a management position or start your own food business, you should take a Food Safety Manager course.
The Learn2Serve Food Handlers Course is available online for $7 in English and Spanish. (Food Safety Managers course/exam is $125)
The State Food Safety Food Handlers Course is $10 and is offered online in English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, ASL and Tagalog. (Food Safety Manager course/exam is $72)
If you are experiencing financial hardship, eFoodHandlers will waive their food handlers online course fee upon an emailed request from your food service manager.
To be certified as a Food Safety Manager, you can complete an online or in person course, but you must take the certification test in person at a scheduled proctored session. The education and testing providers are the same as for the Food Handlers card.
A list of all certified food handler/manager card providers in California can be found here.
Santa Clara County provides this list of businesses that provide certified in-person training and testing for food handler and food manager cards.
Culinary Training Programs in the Bay Area
Center for Employment Training
701 Vine Street
San Jose, CA 95110
3000 Mission College Boulevard
Santa Clara, CA 95054
Fresh Starts Culinary Academy
1385 Hamilton Pkwy,
Novato, CA 94949
* Free ten week formal culinary education available to low income residents of Marin County
165 Eighth Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
* Free six month formal culinary education available to residents of San Francisco who are homeless, in transitional housing, in a residential treatment center, or meet the HUD definition for extreme low income
The Bread Project
1615 University Avenue,
Berkeley, CA 94703
* Free three week "bakery bootcamp" culinary education for low income Bay Area residents
Restaurant Opportunities Centers United
ROC United works to improve wages and working conditions for restaurant workers nationwide. They advocate politically for restaurant workers, provide organizing and political education and offer legal support to protect workers rights. The Bay area office (ROC the Bay) provides free front of house fine dining and hospitality training courses to help low wage workers advance. You can find information about upcoming classes and events on their Facebook page.
Job Search Sites
Localwise - Job posting site focused on local businesses, includes many restaurants and food businesses and is easy to filter by city and industry.
Poached - Food and Drink Jobs
GoodFoodJobs - Helping people find meaningful work with food.
FoodForce - FoodForce focuses on sales, marketing and operational jobs for consumer packaged good producers (think KIND bars, not restaurants).
Craigslist - Craigslist makes it easy and free for food businesses to post job listings, so there are always a lot of openings on here.
Resources for Aspiring Food Entrepreneurs
Veggieloution - Veggieloution is an East San Jose nonprofit committed to connecting people through food and farming. Their Eastside Grange program specifically supports local food entrepreneurs. They recently purchased a food truck to serve as a micro-incubator kitchen and are currently educating their second cohort.
Food Craft Institute - Oakland based nonprofit dedicated to educating and supporting craft food entrepreneurs in the Bay Area through specialized practical business courses and mentorship.
La Cocina - South San Francisco Nonprofit Incubator Kitchen for women and minority owned food businesses
Forage Kitchen Foodmakers Guild - A commissary kitchen located adjacent to the Food Craft Institute in Oakland, dedicated to supporting small food entrepreneurs during scale-up.
More Commercial Kitchens - Culinary Incubator provides a growing list of commercial kitchens in California. At this point there are only a handful listed in the Santa Clara area, but there will undoubtedly be more in the future. San Mateo County has also produced a list of Bay Area commissary/rental kitchens, including food cart commissaries.
Kiva - Kiva is a nonprofit microlending facilitator. Through Kiva, you can raise capital for your business venture. You must pay back funds raised this way, but you can get much better interest rates than from a bank (0% for loans less than $10,000).
Sustainable Agriculture Education
MESA Bay Area Farmer Training Program - The Oakland based program provides education, training and tools for a new generation of farmers in California’s Bay Area to create socially-just, ecologically sustainable and economically viable urban and peri-urban farm businesses.
Alba Farmer Education Course - The Farmer Education Course (‘PEPA’) is for individuals and families that want to start or develop an organic farm or gain valuable job skills to increase their career opportunities in agriculture. PEPA provides experiential entrepreneurship and job training in small farm management and organic vegetable production.
Local Organic Farms
There are many farms located in and around Santa Clara County. In 2014, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) put together a comprehensive list of area markets, farms, and other resources. Their food guide can be found below:
Santa Clara County provides a list of certified farmers' markets in the area. The 2017 list of markets can be found here: