Food Incubator Provides Valuable Experience for Aspiring Chefs

Solano-Napa SBDC partners with Solano Community College and Travis Credit Union to bring program to Solano County

The Solano-Napa SBDC, Solano Community College and Travis Credit Union have come together to offer a new program for aspiring food entrepreneurs.

Food Incubator will give participants the unique opportunity to work with expert chefs and perfect their products in a commercial kitchen.

Altogether, 13 chefs – a baker’s dozen you can say – were invited to participate, at no-cost, in the six-week Food Inc. program. The co-hort is meeting for four hours every Wednesday at Solano Community College for a combination of classroom trainings and kitchen labs led by business advisors from the NorCal SBDC Restaurant Program.

All the participating chefs are relatively new to the food industry and are working on their products with the goal of starting a cottage, artisan food, home kitchen or catering business.

“For some of our chefs, this is their first opportunity to work in a commercial kitchen,” said Solano-Napa SBDC Director Tim Murrill. “For four hours, they have an opportunity to focus solely on their business and their food product and learn from and work with two talented and experienced chefs and business owners. Best of all, this entire experience is being offered to them at no-cost.”

The Solano-Napa SBDC was inspired to offer a Food Incubator program following a similar successful SBDC program in Oakland. Murrill was invited to the final night of that six-week training, where the chefs presented their products to guests. He knows there are many aspiring food entrepreneurs in both Solano and Napa

“Of course, you can always wish for something to happen but you need the funding and partnerships to be successful,” he said. “We were very fortunate to find generous partners in both Travis Credit Union and Solano Community College.”

Travis Credit Union provided the funding for the training that allows the program to be offered at no-cost to participants. Meanwhile, Solano Community College opened its commercial kitchen and accompanying classroom space free of charge to the SBDC.

The Food Incubator will continue to meet weekly through June 1. Just like in Oakland, the SBDC is planning a small event for participants to prepare and present their products to guests, a culmination of six weeks of hard work.