From the end of 2020 and into 2021, we’re publishing our Best of the Bay 2020 Editors’ Picks, highlighting some of the tremendous people, places, and things that made the Bay Area shine during one heck of a year. View more Editors’ Picks, plus our Best of the Bay 2020 Readers Poll winners and our Readers Stories of Resilience here.
Joanna Karlinsky has long been both compassionate and resourceful when cooking more than needed for a particular service or meal—and when identifying other opportunities to share excess provisions with the unhoused. For years, the San Francisco chef, former restaurateur (her last restaurant Sweet Jo’s, located inside the city’s Jewish Community Center, closed in 2010), biscuit whisperer, and cancer survivor has brought perishables to Food Runners. But after she essentially lucked into a large food donation at an hour when the local nonprofit was closed one night, she filled her truck full of catering pans and handed out all of the food on the streets herself.
After spending the first few months of the pandemic cooking hundreds of portions of comforting and nourishing food out of her own kitchen for regular weekly disbursement in the hardest hit parts of town, Karlinsky received two nearly concurrent boosts from her community. Some friends started a social media fundraiser to bolster her efforts and raised nearly $10,000, and Bi-Rite Market owner Sam Mogannam offered her the use of his kitchen at the nonprofit 18 Reasons in the Mission District in the spring.
The admirable strength and heart that Karlinsky has shown through the fact that she’s only been deepening her connection and commitment to doing this work at this particular time when it’s exponentially more challenging is a bright light for San Francisco.