Sunday, April 15, 2012

Contest for New Food Entrepreneurs in Northwest Ohio. And Help for Food Businesses Elsewhere

A short while back, somebody came across this blog by putting the following query in Google: "a kitchen in Toledo where I can make my soup."  I knew EXACTLY what they needed; unfortunately, they came and went, and this blog did not have the answer at the time.  But I do now.

They were looking for something that is called variously a "cooperative kitchen," a "food incubator," or a "culinary incubator."  What all these names mean in general is a professional-grade kitchen and small scale food manufacturing place that can be rented to get food entrepreneurs started in production without the expense of creating their own kitchen.  In the Toledo/northwest Ohio area, that would be NOCK (the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen) in Bowling Green. It has a baking and canning license and is approved by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.  It also has a food processing section available.  But to participate, you have to be business-ready: at least $500,000 in product and general liability insurance, and a refundable $200 deposit.  Rent is $20 an hour (minimum 4 hours use), and you must get an orientation and training on using the facility. 

It's affilitated with the Center for Innovative Food Technology, which provides many types of help for small and growing food businesses, like information on marketing, labeling, food safety, etc.  And now they have a contest that can help the winning businesses: The Fifth Annual Food Product Development Contest.  If live in northwest Ohio and have a recipe with great commercial potential, you can submit it by May 25th.  The three winners with the best products will be given one full year's assistance towards making their product commercially viable: they will be allowed to produce it in the kitchen, and get advice from experts in the field.  They will get help with nutritional analysis, tradmark and copyright issues, label design and more.  For more information, visit the website or call Paula Ray at 419 535 6000, extention 117.  There are also contests for central and northeast Ohio.

But Toledo is not the only place in the U.S. with kitchens like this.  This is one directory of cooperative kitchens, though there are many more.  To find more, try googling "cooperative kitchen," or "food incubator," or "culinary incubator" along with the name of your state.  If you are a fledgling food business, or a cook with a great idea, they can be a great help in getting your business off the ground. 

No comments: