FEATURE Documentary Film and On-Line EDUCATIONAL Series

Their message is simple but their journeys are not. The Kitchenistas are leading a movement using the power of healthier food traditions to raise the health, wellbeing, and resilience within the community.

Filmmakers, Mary Ann Beyster and David Romero, are re-visiting with the Kitchenistas and their families, some five-years since completing the PBS-broadcasted, award-winning short film, The Kitchenistas of National City. In 2014, there were more than 100 Kitchenistas, who were not only graduates, but also advocates for healthy food in the community. The word was out, and as of 2019, there are 220 Kitchenistas and a 1-year plus waiting list. Now, drawing from a diverse mixture of cultures and races, they share a common passion for connecting through food.


Many of the Kitchenistas (along with San Diego professional chefs) are teaching nutrition classes, and have themselves enrolled in community leadership and public speaking classes to help expand their voices into schools, city hall and chamber of commerce. Several have graduated from a women-empowered business incubator and founded healthy food related businesses. The feature film will follow the personal journeys of several Kitchenistas over the course of one year as they support each other in addressing serious health issues in their families as well as exploring new roles as health advocates, civic activists and food entrepreneurs.

Their stories are timely in their potential to open the dialog on the role of culture and tradition in making food choices, budgeting for and accessing healthy food, speaking up for healthy food & lifestyles, creating adventurous eaters, and more. Nutrition education, culturally responsive food activism, and empowering women’s voices are at the heart of Latino American and urban community concerns today.

The Kitchenistas feature documentary is in early stages of production with fundraising continuing to support full production of the feature as well as an on-line educational series (3-5 minute vignettes & discussion guides) that expands on stories/topics in the feature. Principal photography begin in 2019. Completion is estimated for fall of 2020.

Since 2018, fifteen (15) organizations have agreed to be community partners to provide advise during production and support community outreach via screenings and promotion. These include KPBS, Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center, Project Concern International, UC San Diego, The Chicano Federation, MANA de San Diego, San Diego and National City public libraries, multiple Chamber of Commerce, and faculty across the country in public health, Latino and women studies. We welcome additional collaborators to join us!

Questions regarding support for the feature film, educational series, and/or outreach can be directed to Producer Mary Ann at