Humans of White Plaza: Meet the vendors behind Stanford’s farmers’ market

Previously the owner of three restaurants in San Jose, Ritprasert said he shifted to selling his Thai hot plates at local farmers’ markets due to unsustainable rent increases. Today, he maintains his original menu — including dishes like marinated pork over rice and roti with yellow curry — while traveling among the various markets of Santa Clara County. However, even his more flexible food stall setup is not immune to rising costs — Ritprasert estimates that since the pandemic, the price of pork per pound has more than doubled. 

Despite increasing costs, Ritprasert continues serving his Thai dishes out of a fervent passion for cooking and sharing his food. “The students are so kind and so nice over here; I love it,” he said with a smile. Ritprasert, who has been coming to the Stanford Farmers’ Market since 2018, hopes that eating at Thai Street Food can become a fond memory for Stanford students to look back on after graduating.

Zaida: The single mother finding her voice through cooking

Zaida Soriano hails from Oaxaca, Mexico, where she learned to cook from her mother. For Soriano, cooking is not just a skill but a form of culture, tradition and self-expression. At her food truck, Zaida’s Kitchen, customers can find both classic dishes like carnitas empanadas and innovative twists on traditional Oaxacan fare, all served in a fresh-pressed corn tortilla and topped with her rich, creamy moles.

Soriano‘s mole coloradito is a standout — blending roasted dried chiles, spices, mashed plantains and crushed corn chips into a thick, intensely rich and perfectly balanced sauce. Soriano, who was vegan for some time, has also veganized some of her dishes, using jackfruit for carnitas and cashew cream instead of sour cream. All of her moles are vegan and gluten-free, reflecting her commitment to inclusivity and her culinary credo: “Oaxacan food is for everyone.”

Soriano, who moved to California when she was 15, previously co-owned a restaurant in Palo Alto with her husband. However, after the couple split, Soriano decided to go solo and rebranded her Oaxacan restaurant as a food truck in 2020. During that period, Soriano recalled, “I learned that I have a voice — and I have ideas.” She now brings her creations to Stanford, where she enjoys chatting with the smiling students who frequent her stall. A mother of three, including a son who graduated from Brown last March, Soriano said she understands the dedication and hard work that students put into their studies and hopes that her food can fuel them on their journey.

Originally posted 2023-06-29 04:52:56.