About Us



Each of us is on a food journey.

Whether your goal today is to make a quick meal for your family, explore a culinary skill or indulge in a hedonistic exploration of taste, every journey is personal and meaningful. Our teachers are your guides, committed to helping you explore your definition of good food.


Lasting changes begin with small steps.

Our classes, dinners, and community gatherings provide a welcoming place to practice new skills, ask questions and celebrate. Whether you’re an experienced home cook, a new neighbor looking for a fun night out or someone just learning your way around the kitchen, we welcome you to our table.

We live to empower our community.

Our passionate and committed teachers share their stories, skills and knowledge. In our classroom on 18th Street you can sharpen your knife skills, share a community dinner with friends, taste home­cooked meals from around the world, and learn from farmers, winemakers, ranchers, crafters and cooks.


We go beyond our classroom walls.

We offer free Cooking Matters classes in low ­income communities around the Bay Area. In our classes, we cook, eat and discover how to make quick, healthy, affordable, delicious meals every day.


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18 Reasons began when Cliff Leonardi and Dan DiPasquo, active members of the 18th­-and-­Guerrero community, set out to create a workplace, a meeting and event venue, and gallery in the neighborhood. They dubbed the little storefront at 593 Guerrero Street “Blue Space” and happily carried out their mission until 2007, when Cliff and his family left for the arguably greener pastures of Portland. At that point, Cliff and Dan offered the reins to the folks at Bi­Rite Market, who for years had been dreaming of having a space to further connect neighbors with producers of food and wine. They leapt at the chance, and renamed the space “18 Reasons.” The organization grew over time, relocating to a larger space on 18th Street in 2011, and launching a youth outreach program in 2012.

Meanwhile, down the street at 18th and Harrison, Sarah Nelson launched the nonprofit Three Squares in 2011 to bring free Cooking Matters cooking and nutrition classes to low-income communities throughout the Bay Area. Sarah worked with Bi­Rite Market and 18 Reasons to launch San Francisco's first Food & Farm Film Fest in 2013. The two organizations liked collaborating so much that they decided to join forces and merge later that spring.

18 Reasons is now an independent 501c3 nonprofit organization as well as a proud member of the Bi ­Rite family.



If you’ve been in the Mission for a while, you may remember the large sign atop a building at the corner of 17th Street and Mission. It simply, and mysteriously stated: 17 Reasons. It was tragically taken down in 2002 and replaced by an ordinary billboard.To mark the change in the gallery’s management and pay tribute to this much­missed icon, we decided to rechristen the space as 18 Reasons. Eighteen because our home is 18th Street and because…well, it never hurts to have one more reason.


17 Reasons Why! sign