All too often I'm asked whether I have any interest in selling my preserves or pickles. For me, the answer is no -- I'm too much of a dilettante, and like to make different things to suit my whim. However, if you are interested in taking your food craft to market, I will cheer you forward wholeheartedly.
Making the leap is not a slam dunk, though, even if you're interested in starting out as a cottage food operator (CFO). Before you make the non-trivial investment of time and money, it pays to do your reasearch.
For those of us who are not MBAs, launching a business is fraught with mystery. Luckily, Susie Wyshak has brought her extensive knowledge of food business to you in her book, Good Food, Great Business: How to Take Your Artisan Food Idea from Concept to Marketplace. A longtime avid fan of artisan food businesses, she became passionate about helping would-be businessespeople take those first and most important steps. She then distilled that information into an amazingly lucid and inspirational book.
The book is broken into clear chapters that frame the various aspects of thinking about your business before you make your move. Understanding the competitive landscape of the food industry, finding your niche, setting goals, creating your brand -- these are the things you should have lined up before you buy one single ingredient. Only once you've built that foundation can you start thinking about the logistical matters like packaging and sourcing ingredients.
The book is peppered with callouts with tips, tricks and ideas, and each chapter is punctuated with a summary of takeaways. Wyshak's tone is casual and approachable, and she has an excellent way of explaining all the concepts in a friendly, supporting way. It's like she holds your hand through the entire thing.
Fact is, the principles in this book apply to all small and independent businesses, but she drills deeper on the issues that matter most for food artisans. By following Wyshak's advice, you will be off to a great start running your new food business like a pro.
Related: If you want to start out as a home-based Cottage Food Operator (CFO), read Susie's great guest post on About.com Food Preservation. And if you want to see artisan food businesses in action, join us for a food craft tour of Emilia-Romagna, the culinary heart of Italy.
You want it, don't you? Of course you do. So how do you enter to win? We've got options -- lots of options. You can do any or all of the following things:
Updated for 2015
I imagine few among us have never considered taking our passion for food craft to the next stage. Perhaps you've mastered a certain jam, or have a secret recipe for a killer BBQ sauce, or have even conquered the holy grails of cheese making, home brewing or charcuterie. Would you take it to market?
It's not for the weak of heart, which is why I'm always so impressed by those that do. It's also why I'm a big fan of the Good Food Awards. In their fifth year now, they seek out the best craft foods in the nation, aiming to put them on a pedestal for the world to see (and taste).
I know some of you in the Punk Domestics community have taken the leap and turned your perfect creations into market-ready goods. And so I hope that each of you will select your finest products and submit them to the Good Food Awards. The entry period this year runs from July 6 through the end of the month. As of Monday, July 6, simply go here to fill out the entry form before August 1. If you're selected, your product will be up for blind tasting in September.
There are two exciting changes this year. Normally, each year the Good Food Awards launches one new category. This year, they are launching two. First, Cider is breaking out from the Beer category. Far bigger news is the new Pantry category, encompassing a wide definition of condiments, from dips to sauces and much, much more.
I am also proud to announce that I am the co-chair of the Preserves category this year. This means I will not be judging, but rather managing the judges and the process of the tasting. As noted, the tastings are blind, so I'm afraid I cannot afford any preferential treatment to Punk Domestics community members.
Want to see an example of a cottage food business who's gone on to bring home the gold? Check out my interview with Julia Sforza of Half-Pint Preserves, herself a Punk Domestics contributor, too. Also check out my interview with Dafna Kory of INNA Jam, who also has won.
The winners are announced at a grand gala in San Francisco in January, and a lavish affair it is. I've had the pleasure of attending on the first and third years. It's such a pleasure to see the hard work of these artisans recognized. And it's an even greater pleasure to taste their handicrafts directly.
Summertime is upon us, and it's time to bust out the grill and sear up some sausage. Making your own is easier than you think, and the rewards are worth the effort.
Like sunshine trapped in a soft, fuzzy fruit, apricots are the ultimate harbinger of summer. Here's a bushelful of ways to make the most of them.
Cherries! Early summer's best drupe is finally in season, and there are just oh so many things to do with them. Grab a bushel or 10 while they're abundant, and tuck into these DIY projects, from jam to sauces to drinks and more.
Summer grilling is great, but burgers and dogs are only as good as the condiments that dress them up. Step away from the packaged varieties and try your hand at DIY condiments to make haute dogs and hamburgers.
Bye bye, April showers. You know what that means. Spring is in full bloom, and edible flowers are bursting out all over. We've got a great big bouquet of blossoms for you to forage and incorporate in DIY projects.
Thanks to everyone who came out for my demos at Maker Faire 2015! I had a great time, and am happy to answer any questions on the material I covered. And for those who expressed interest in our trips to Italy, check out the overview here, with links to full itineraries in October and January.