Little City Kitchen Co. Blog

My stories about local food, fermentation, and formerly organic baby food
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Birth of the “Baby Tasters” and a Plan

Been a busy week.  First, a big shout out to a group I’ve affectionately named my “Baby Tasters”.  Before I bring the baby food to market, I want to gather feedback on taste, packaging, appeal, pricing, etc…  so I have assembled a group of 15 parents (and their little ones) from all over the Bay Area that will help me do that.  Looking forward to meeting all of you!

The first of my new cooking classes start this Saturday.  From Apples to Beets: Making Your Own Organic Baby Food is the topic.  This is the special “Guinea Pig” price of only $20.00, and the class is Saturday from 2:30-4:30pm in my Emeryville commercial kitchen.  Email me ASAP if you’re interested in joining us.  Two spots left.

Been spending a lot of time this week planning out the first baby food class.  Trying not to stress out over it, mostly successful at that.  As you know, I’m a “planner” so I have the flow and timing written out, but still have some items to buy before Saturday.  Part of me knows it’s going to be completely fantastic, but there’s always that small part that fears people will look at me like I’m crazy and that it will fail miserably.  I can’t believe I’m sharing all these crazy thoughts with the world, but I did say I was going to be honest…

The Rebirth of a Business Plan

So you guys who have been reading this from the beginning know that I’ve been struggling with my business plan for a while.  Now that I’ve narrowed my focus to making baby food and teaching cooking classes, it was much easier to write, and I’ve made some great progress.

Why the sudden re-prioritization you ask??  I found a fantastic business coach who is an expert in the specialty food market that I really wanted to work with.  When I applied to meet with her, they asked me “do you have a completed business plan” which is a requirement for coaching.  I replied with an enthusiastic “of course” all the while wondering if my barely-two-page-rough-outline would qualify.  I decided probably not and proceeded to cram for several hours in my favorite coffee shop resulting in a surprisingly good plan.  My new coach is probably reading this blog right now – crap, I’m totally busted!!

Overall a great week.  Tune in next week for a full report on the first of my many cooking classes.  Hope you guys are enjoying reading the blog as much as I am writing it.  As you know, you can follow Little City Kitchen Co. by selecting the “like” button on my Facebook page as well.  Happy Friday!

Marketing, Cash Flow, and Balance Sheets. Oh My.

First let me say thanks for the wonderful marketing ideas that many of your shared!  As promised, here is my pick of the top five most creative:

1. Target midwives and doulas (thanks Jenn A.)
2. groups for new mothers (thanks Jill B.)
3. Free samples at farmers markets (thanks Sabra W.)
4. “Women’s initiatives” at professional firms (Emily M.)

And my favorite marketing idea that I never would have thought of on my own:  Invite a local journalist to attend a cooking class (thanks Jill B. again!)

Along with the marketing ideas, I also received several suggestions for new classes and topics that are worth mentioning: tapping into the homeschool community, offering singles or male-themed classes, parent and child cooking classes, adult community centers, and much more.  The response was fantastic – thanks SO much for your wonderful ideas!

Bookkeeping 101

I ask many small business owners for their one piece of advice they can give to me.  My friend Dennis (who I now rent kitchen space from) gave me some good advice about not getting behind in your bookkeeping, because once you do, it’s nearly impossible to catch up!  So as a result, I’ve been taking a weekly bookkeeping series offered by the SF Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Excellent free/inexpensive classes for anyone interested in starting a business.

I recognize that there are some activities that will be more fun than others as I build Little City Kitchen Co.  Cooking, teaching, and marketing are among the “fun” activities in my book, whereas learning about bookkeeping is entirely another matter.  My Thursday’s have been filled with balance sheets, profit & loss statements, cash flow forecasts, oh my…

Those who know me well know that I’m pretty much a “numbers” person and fairly excel-savvy.  This stuff, however, takes numbers to a whole new level and is hard to wrap your head around.  But, like everything else, I’ll learn it and be just fine.  Next thing to conquer is QuickBooks.

Update on Peaks and Valleys

Back to my really tough week that I talked about in my blog “Peaks and Valleys”…  In the beginning, it was all so new and overwhelming to me.  While there are still a bazillion things to get done, it’s easier for me now because I can see how much I’ve already learned in two short months.

And speaking of numbers, I did a preliminary cash flow forecast and realized that I’m going to be fine on money in the short term.  This greatly eased the little voice in my head that kept chanting “oh-crap-I’m-going-to-run-out-of-money”.  Anytime I hear the familiar “oh-crap” start up, I say instead “relax, you’re going to be fine”.  It’s working so far.

So…overall a great week.  Coming next week: more great news about my new “Baby Tasters” group that will help me with feedback and R&D on my frozen baby food.  I have a group of 15 people already signed up!!

Shameless plug for Dennis’s company Coco Delice, seriously the best chocolate you’ve ever tasted.  I’m a total convert.  He’s offering 25% off all chocolate for 1 day starting Monday at noon if you use the promo code “summer”.  Support small businesses and get some killer chocolate at the same time!

Put Your Creative Hat On…

Busy week since my return from Denver!  I unveiled my new “Guinea Pig Cooking Series” and the regular cooking class schedule through October.  Click here to view a  complete class listing.  It includes classes on Baby Food, Easy Appetizers, Whole Grains, and Three Fondues.

I already have a few people for each of the first classes scheduled, so a great initial response.  Still have some spaces available, so just call or email me if you’re interested in participating.  Big thanks to many of you that have helped spread the word by re-posting my links on your Facebook pages, emailing your friends, or talking about it at baby showers.

And speaking of marketing, I need your help again! I’m looking for some ideas on how best to market/advertise the cooking classes.  Some of the more creative suggestions I’ve had are: prenatal yoga classes, gym trainers, tax-preparers offices, baby trade shows, and the list goes on.  It could be specific places to target, people to meet, groups to network with, etc…

I’m going to publish the top five most creative marketing ideas, and the winner of the best idea gets some special goodies from me.

Exciting news this week:  I’ve partnered with Natural Resources, a wonderful baby resources center in the Mission.  They are including a blurb about me in their upcoming newsletter to 5000+ Bay Area people to gauge interest on adding my baby food cooking class to their workshop schedule, and to help gather a group of “baby tasters” to give feedback on the baby food I’ll be making.  Fingers crossed!

Looking forward hearing all your creative marketing ideas!  Just post them below or on my Facebook Page, and I’ll announce the top five winners next week.

Special shout out to all my friends that just returned from Houston…I experienced a little NBTA-envy this week, which didn’t last long once I realized I could sleep until 8:30 each morning.  Hope you guys had fun.

Organic Baby Food Classes

Little City Kitchen Co. is now offering hands-on classes on making your own organic baby food.  By spending 1-2 hours a week, any home cook can make fresh and preservative-free food for their little one to enjoy.

We will be focused on making baby food for infants primarily between 6-12 months, however you can easily adapt the techniques and ingredients to make food for children of all ages.  Classes are held in my commercial kitchen in Emeryville, CA.

The equipment needed to make your own baby food is is minimal.  Really all you need is a food processor (a blender or food mill works well too), ice cube trays, and some simple recipes.

From Apples to Beets: Making Your Own Organic Baby Food
Cost: $65.00 per class

Saturday, September 18th, 2:30 – 4:30pm
Wednesday, October 13th, 6:30 – 8:30pm

Mention the secret words “Little One” and save $15.00 on baby food classes through October

Class Description:
This hands-on class will explore the various types of whole grains, vegetables, and fruit your little one can enjoy as they begin eating solid foods, and the different methods that any home cook can use to make baby food in their own kitchen.

Participants will make several wholesome baby foods such as brown rice cereal, roasted sweet potatoes, homemade pear sauce, roasted golden beets and more.   You get to take home everything you make, which can be enjoyed right away or frozen for up to several months until your baby is ready to eat.

Click here for a complete list of upcoming cooking classes offered at Little City Kitchen Co.  In addition to organic baby food, we offer interactive classes on Cooking with Whole Grains, Three Fondues, and Easy Appetizers.

I hope you’ll join me for a class!

One. Two. Three Conference Highlights

I have a 2-inch binder, a stack of business cards, and about 30 pages of notes that I took after my first USPCA Personal Chef’s Conference that was held in Denver, CO.  Shout out to all my new UPSCA friends.  It was so nice getting to know you!

Instead of inundating everyone with all the class details, I have decided to make it simple and give you the top three highlights for me.

Starting a Cooking School for Kids: Summer cooking classes for kids is something that I have considered, but had liability concerns since you’re working with knives, burners, etc…  I learned some great info about how to make these activities safer and still tons of fun for the kiddos.  More coming on that, probably next summer, but got some good starter ideas.

Let me know if you think your kids (or friends’ kids) would be interested in taking cooking classes.  If there is enough interest, I could consider adding a class sooner then next summer.  Age range would be from around 8-11 or 12-15.

No GMO’s – Another Reason to Eat Organic: I’ve just started learning more about what organic really means and what are the benefits of eating organic foods.  Some of you have heard of GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) or GM foods.  Think mad scientist meets food…

In mid-1990’s, tomatoes were bred with a walnut gene to make the skin stronger and to extend grocery store shelf life.  So everyone with a nut allergy was suddenly allergic to tomatoes…go figure.

Tomatoes produced in the US are all now non-GMO, but by definition, any food labeled “organic” is made from non-GMO ingredients.  Soybeans, rice, and corn are three of the top GM foods grown today in the US.  Whenever possible, buy organic, or look for the “non-GMO” label.  Okay, off my soapbox!

Grill Something That Isn’t Typically Grilled: We can all grill chicken and burgers, but keep things interesting by using items that aren’t usually grilled…like ravioli and Tequila Lime pound cake.

For raviolis, partially cook, dip in egg, then seasoned breadcrumbs, grill a few minutes each size and serve with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese.  For Tequila Lime Pound Cake, place pound cake in a loaf pan, poke 20-30 holes with a skewer, combine two shots of tequila with a lime simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar boiled then cooled) and pour over pound cake.  Soak for an hour, slice, and grill.

I’m thinking that Tequila Lime pound cake sounds pretty good right about now…  Enjoy!