Cottage Law Lets Home Cooks Go Legit

Posted by Anneli Rufus at 1:10 pm, Sunday, May 5, 2013

California’s new cottage law, which became effective in January of this year, allows enterprising people to sell food products that were created in their own home kitchens. In passing this liberating legislation, California now joins many other states, including Michigan, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia.

Last week, Dibs visited the Bay Area Homemade Market, where a large handful of new cottage-law entrepreneurs set up shop in a Berkeley space normally used for art shows. It was inspiring to meet these folks, hear their stories and of course sample their wares.

jake blaine

“I grew up making jam,” said Jake Blaine (depicted above) of Jake’s Castro Kitchen. “My problem was that I’ve never figured out how to make it in small batches.”

Now he doesn’t have to. Cordon Bleu-trained Blaine offers six different sweet jams and three savory jams in such innovative flavors as carrot cake and bacon-balsamic-bourbon, along with a selection of sauces, fruit butters, chutneys and more — all handcrafted in his kitchen in San Francisco’s Castro District, where he and partner Ren Blake also serve monthly brunches, another cottage-law plus.

Why did Jasmine Shepard name her company Engineered Cupcake? Because she’s an engineer!

“I work in HVAC and solar, and I put way more science into my baking than the average person does,” says Shepard, who worked her way through a college engineering degree while part-timing as a pastry chef at the local Four Seasons and elsewhere. Science succeeds, as Shepard’s wares are perfectly velvety and exactly the right degree of sweetness. Our favorite were the green-tea cupcakes — made according to her Japanese grandmother’s recipe.

“Not a spring went by when she didn’t bake green-tea cupcakes,” Shepard said.

alex stone

Other participants included A-Live:Raw nutrition bars; Brown Dog Mustard; Mi Gudu Baking; Chickie’s Cookies & Treats (whose gloriously chewy offerings include salted-caramel brownies, jalapeƱo cookies, banana-chocolate-chip cookies and more … including s’mores); Teveh Sweet Life (whose amazingly affordable pastries include irresistible vegan and gluten-free Key lime/coconut oat bars; each label proudly announces, “Made in Home Kitchen”); and Girl Alex crackers, whose proprietor Alex Stone (depicted at right) organizes the monthly Homemade Markets.

All of these pioneering business owners told us that they had been baking and cooking for friends, family, tailgate parties and officemates for years until the new cottage law finally let them connect with a wider audience — and turn their talents into well-deserved cash.

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