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Getting started

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
How does one get started baking things you know everyone that has ever had them LOVES them! I bake at home. I did an engagement party and did their wedding day at both homes and the cocktail hour before the reception. Each year I would make up a tray for the holidays at work and for my dog's kennel people. I have been told time and time again to get started on my own but have no start up funds. If I bake to present to a restaurant it would be from my home kitchen. I understand this is not advisable. Churches will not allow me kitchen use for business purpose. Do I throw my hands up and give up?:(
I would like to at least make some side money and gain a following for later on so I can retire and have this to count on.
Any advise you can give me would be appreciated.

post #2 of 13
That's a toughie. I've kind of been through it already a little bit. Ive heard of people who start out of their home and hit it big. I don't know the laws where you are, but I checked here and to sell food out of my home I would have to have 2 kitchens in my home and one of them would have to pass inspection.....which would include having a floor drain. OK that's not gonna happen.

anyway, there is a limit to what you can do out of your home. Ive worked in professional kitchens for several years and to do volume stuff out of my kitchen would drive me crazy. Im used to professional equipment, home stuff just wont do it.

I have a friend who runs a rest. that only serves lunch. It looks like I can "rent" his kitchen for a few hours a couple of nights a week.

If you did something like that, they would have to agree that you have access to all their equipment. And room in coolers, freezers, etc. for storage of your foodstuffs. If not you would have to haul it back and forth every time...and that means every little thing..including things like salt and grease for pans. This could cause a real hassle when it comes to sanitation. You really have to think about how long certain foods stay above refrigeration temps. In the summer it could be a problem if your having to carry parishable foods to the kitchen and then take what's left back home.

When scheduling your time, remember to include the time it takes to shop, prep., bake, cool, package, deliver, etc.

And trust me if anything ever goes missing in that kitchen (and they always do) you will be blamed.

Be sure and count the cost first. You would have rent of kitchen and equipment, food cost, packaging, labeling, transporting, advertising, etc. Im not sure of the laws on labeling, but Im pretty sure if you were successful you would have to include a list of ingredients on package. Also if they contain any nuts or nut products at all you need to put a warning on the package.

Well, that is the extent of my knowledge on the subject. Let me know if you find out more.

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Getting Started

Thanks Eeyore,
When I did an engagment party I did it out of my "galley" kitchen. A 16" tray of of cookies for a party of about 85. I think if I had use of a commercial sized kitchen I would amaze myself! Nobody believed I did all that in my little kitchen. I was told by the woman I did it for that many of her guests said my cookies were better than the caterers' she tasted from. She really made my day:)
I was told by a restauarant/pizzeria owner that I could get into trouble doing it at home and advised me not to anymore. Where we are, Long Island NY, you need a DBA to even think of getting started. And that intales use of a commercial kitchen. I thank you for your input. I guess I have something to think about. I wonder if anyone every turned a rental into a real postion in the same restaurant? Hmm---- another thought.....
post #4 of 13
There is no reason you cant make things in your home to take to restaurants for them to try. As long as you aren't selling it to them. But there is no point in taking food for them to try if you dont have a plan on how you will make it if they order a bunch. If it is that good, you can let them try it and then tell them your dellemma and see if they have a suggestion.

post #5 of 13

home kitchen

here in NC, baked goods and other "low-risk" foods are OK to make at home. you can be certified by the department of agriculture. i have a tiny kitchen and do wholesale (yes, there are lots of labelling requirements), weddings, and celebration cakes, as well as cakes to restaurants. one thing i am looking into for the summer when i have really heavy production weeks is the Blue Ridge Food Ventures, a non-profit "value added food processing center" kind of an incubator for food business and farmers, you can rent by the hour, they have EVERY kind of equipment you could imagine and its really cool. check and see if there is anything like that in your area... good luck... I really love working for myself and doing it at home (i'm a mama, too) so if you can make it work... do it!!!
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 

Getting started

Thank you Short St Cakes,
I am hearing allot about labeling. Do you mean that if you do a wedding or another kind of party, you are required to have lables on the trays? I can see listing ingredients for the purpose of avoiding allergies but do you have to break down calories and fat also? Doesnt this sort of take the fun out of food now?

When I use any kind of nut and such I like to top off the cookies as well so people know to avoid them.
post #7 of 13
It depends on what state you are baking in. You have to begin with the board of health. In my state of Ohio you can make confections (which is what I do) without any hassle but as soon as you bake anything you need an inspection. This can still be your own kitchen.
Here's what I've learned in starting a small business just over a year ago

1. don't start without some money...get an extra job and save up at least $3,000 to begin your home business. You have to have some inventory, some literature etc. It will be incredibly frustrating to start without any money. Be patient if this is your dream.

2. register as an LLC (limited liability company) to protect your personal property...I think it might have been $25?

3. as soon as you can, get product liability insurance (about $125 every 3 months)

4. read up on how to make a simple business plan

5. read biographies of other entrepreneurs in your field

6. research websites and forums that help small business start ups...they can tell you what to check into re: licencing and inspections etc. Sometimes your chamber of commerce will help you also.

7. Be prepared for putting in a lot of hours to make your dream happen...I've heard it many times but now REALLY believe takes 3 years to establish a small business...especially a start up without much cash flow.

8. Believe in yourself

Hope that helps, go for it
post #8 of 13
Im so jealous. The only way you can sell any food out of your home here is to have an extra kitchen that meets all the specs of a regular restaurant.

Isn't that stuff decided by county, not state?

No, you do not have to worry about labeling for catering or wholesale. I thought you were going to be selling retail.

Let us know how it goes.

post #9 of 13
Almost exactly a year ago, I started making chocolate truffles out of my home. I sold directly to friends, neighbors and coworkers, for special occasions like Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas, etc. In January I decided to go legit and start my own business.

I live in Michigan, which does not allow any food production from home (unlike our neighbor Ohio which has a cottage industry law). So I had to find a kitchen to use. I'm using the prep kitchen space at a place called Main Dish Kitchen - this is one of those places where you can go and assemble a variety of meals from pre-prepared ingredients, moving from station to station. They only use their kitchen from 6-2 weekdays, so it's available to me a lot of the time. It's fabulous! I love, love, love using a commercial kitchen. Just the dishwashing setup alone makes my life so much easier. You might think about checking out a place like this, if there are any near you - the one I use has just one oven and no stovetop (I use a portable burner and a microwave), so it wouldn't be very good for catering out of, but is great for chocolate and might be workable for baked goods at small volume.

There are churches that will rent to businesses - I know of a chocolatier here in Michigan that uses one - but it sounds like you've already checked out that option.

Labeling - labeling laws are determined by the Federal government. When selling at retail, you need to label your packages with weight and ingredients and sell by date. But if you are a small business, you don't have to do nutritional labeling. Selling wholesale, you just need to have an ingredient list available.

If you do get this started, the last thing I can say has to do with pricing your goods. As someone else said, you need to consider all the time you put into it - shopping, production, clean up. Plus rent, insurance, equipment. Food costs are a very small piece of the picture. Be sure you are pricing your goods appropriately from the start - if you sell yourself too short in the beginning trying to create a market, you will find it difficult to raise prices later. You can't compete on price with what can be purchased at through Sysco or at Costco, so you have to find a market that is willing to pay what it costs to actually make great tasting products out of real ingredients.
post #10 of 13
Well, you have gotten alot of great info and advice. I just want to reiterate that I think you should really try to get access to a professional kitchen as soon as you can.

I recently quit my job. Im trying to spend more time in volunteer work. But I still want to keep my hand in the business. So Ive done a couple of cakes out of my home. This has been my experience so far:

Through the years Ive collected alot of equipment. But there were a few more things I needed and wanted. Also I had to buy ingredients, at retail of course. I dont have a business name or tax ID or anything like that yet. I've had to bake the cakes one at a time because I just have a regular home oven. It can take all day to bake enough cakes for one large order. Ive had to make the icing in small batches because my mixer is only a 5 quart. Once the cakes are baked I have to take them to my friends restaurant because I dont have enough freezer space. Then when Im ready to decorate them I have to drive back and pick them up.

So far I have spent: $457.60
so far I have collected: $130.00

Thats actually not too bad for just getting started.

My first cake:

Food cost: $52.32
Non food cost: $6.25
Total: $58.57

I collected: $100.00 Profit: $41.43
Time appr. 5 hours = $8.28/HR

I would like to get a freezer. It would actually save alot of time travelling back and forth to the restaurant. But for what I need it would cost about 450. So I would like to make up some of my costs already incurred before I do that.

Working out of a professional kitchen would save MUCH time. Being able to mix up and bake all the cakes at once. And to make up one big batch of icing would save considerable time. And as someone already mentioned cleanup time is WAY reduced in a professional kitchen....esp. because of the dish machines.

I know you think that doing cookies for 85 people out of your kitchen is great. But that is actually a VERY small catering job. If you are successful, you can expect to be offered much bigger jobs. You are going to need to be ready for the time, expense, and space that is needed to pull it off.

So let us know what happens. Im excited for you (and me).

post #11 of 13
I too am on long island, pm me and i can share sources with you.
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 

getting started

Hi MBrown,
At the risk of sounding foolish, what is "PM"ing? is it another area within this thread forum that we can chat a bit?
I have not been able to sign on here for a while. I do not know when you came on.
I have a full time job that I cannot afford to leave. Anything I do would have to be after hrs. This can get tough. I have been asked to do a charity bake sale at work in a couple of months. I am looking forward to it.
I will say I have "much" to learn. I am not a pro at all. I am going on comments made by anyone I baked for. I baked at a previous job of 15 yrs for occasions and I have been told to either write a recipe book or start my own business. I guess I should have realized I would be one of many layed off!!
Here I am at another job and I am baking with much success. I always bring home empty trays! So, I thought if I could get started, I would have a following from my old job, new job, and our dog's kennel I baked for each holiday season. I was told to inform them if I open up a shop! Even if I have to wait to retire to do this, I will try to bake for things I am legally able to bake for. It keeps me baking and creating and creates a network for me. I hope I am not going through all this expense and time for nothing. For now, I will settle for this as a side line to suppliment my income if I can work it legally and affordably, as I need to keep a full time steady job.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

getting started

Good morning MBrown from LI,
A ton of bricks had to come down for me to figure out how to "PM" ! I copied
my last message on it, in the event you read your PM first. I will check my PM in box periodically for your resonse.

Hope your holiday weekend was a nice one:)
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