Edible Enterprises Food Business Incubator To Help Build Future LA Food Economy
NEW ORLEANS – “Buy Local. Eat Local.” It’s the unofficial credo of Edible Enterprises, whose organizers said their facility in Norco, LA, is helping local food entrepreneurs meet the increasing demand of consumers who insist local food is where it’s at!
“We’ve seen a surge of interest in using the kitchen facility,” said Sanjay Kharod, Executive Director of the New Orleans Food & Farm Network (NOFFN) that operates the facility in collaboration with St. Charles Parish. “Over the past year we’ve reached out to the food and farming world in the Greater New Orleans region and they’ve responded enthusiastically. Membership at the incubator kitchen increased from 3 to 21 and we hope to double that in 2016.”
The roster of businesses include: Cupcake Fairies, Sicily's Finest Gourmet, Old Jamaica Pepper Jelly, Cocktail & Sons, Emma D's, TJ's Gourmet Sauce, Scratchmo’s Creole Mustard, Thai D Jing, Big Easy Bucha, Capstone Raw Honey, Buster's Original Homemade Pecan Candy, Locally Preserved, Southern Fixings Pralines, Q’Dat BBQ Sauce, XODO Botanicals, Cajun Dough Works, The Puddin’ Shop, Robin's Rockin' Cajun Pepper Jelly, Gourmet Fournet, McClary Bros. Drinking Vinegars, and Sheaux Fresh.
“I am ecstatic that Edible Enterprises is developing into the regional asset that we envisioned when we began working on the project over ten years ago,” said Corey Faucheux, Director of Economic Development and Tourism for St. Charles Parish. “I am looking forward to building on our recent momentum and successes so that Edible Enterprises can evolve into an even greater resource for the Greater New Orleans food economy and its entrepreneurs.”
There are a dozen or so additional businesses considering joining the kitchen in coming weeks and Edible Enterprises encourages interested entrepreneurs to get in touch with them at email@example.com. “We are building a collaborative business community here at Edible Enterprises,” Kharod said. “One that encourages true innovation and adaptability to available resources, something we will need to produce food in the future.”
NOFFN has recently partnered with the Food Science Program of Our Lady of Holy Cross College to serve as a lab testing resource and a training center on production technologies to assist Edible Enterprises’ member businesses in increasing their products' success rate.
“The need for food scientists is at an all-time high,” Dr. Darryl Holliday, assistant professor and Our Lady of Holy Cross College Food Science Program coordinator, said. “We are working with the tenants at Edible Enterprises to assist them in streamlining their production methods as well as working with them to ensure they are following the most current food safety regulations. These tenants are opening up their doors to our students who are gaining real world experience working with food manufacturers, solving real life problem, so they will be workforce-ready upon graduation. We are very excited about building the relationship and opportunities with Edible Enterprises, the New Orleans Food and Farm Network, St. Charles Parish, and others in the Greater New Orleans Metro area.”
An example of adapting to local resources and opportunities is the sourcing of many of the ingredients used by food entrepreneurs from area producers ranging from sugar to strawberries, blueberries to basil, and lemons to satsumas to grapefruit to blood oranges. Farm to Fork in practice. Another adaptation is the incubation of a small batch, value-added food business to minimally process locally-grown vegetables for distribution to retailers and institutions and to provide small-scale food processing and co-packing services to food start-ups and farmers.
“We are encouraging the food community to think about Edible Enterprises as a tool we all can use to build the local food system,” Kharod said. “If you have an idea please come talk to us and we’ll determine how we can help.”
To encourage greater usage of Edible Enterprises and to spotlight the local food economy, NOFFN and St. Charles Parish is holding NOLA Made 2016 on March 14, 2016, as part of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week 2016 (NOEW 2016). NOLA Made 2016 is an inaugural “elevator pitch competition” open to individuals and teams of food and farmer entrepreneurs that have an innovative food production idea and would benefit from the use of the kitchen facilities. Up to three selected semi-finalists will pitch their business concepts and vie to win cash awards, free kitchen hours, consulting, pro-bono technical assistance. Entrants need to submit a short online application.
Applications are due by January 29, 2016.