AURORA, Wis. - Do you have that one special recipe, one that's delicious enough to start mass-producing and selling to the public?
If so, the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College's (NWTC) Woodland Kitchen and Business Incubator in Aurora can help you get started.
Located at the old Hillcrest school in Aurora, the kitchen offers 2,600 square feet of work, office, and storage space. It is open to everyone, from experienced caterers and chefs to holiday baking groups and food processing entrepreneurs.
Kitchen Assistant Sue Hoogland uses the kitchen facilities at the Woodland Kitchen and Business Incubator in Aurora, Wis. The facility is now open for licensed food processing and personal use.
Nikki Younk/Daily News Photo
What sets the facility apart for any other kitchen is that it offers United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) licensing. Food processors must be licensed to legally sell their products.
Anyone who wishes to use the kitchen for personal use or for making gifts does not have to go through the licensing process.
Another advantage to the Woodland Kitchen is education. NWTC representatives are on hand to help with business plans, packaging, labeling, pricing, and distribution.
Although the kitchen has been unofficially open since July, it just recently celebrated a grand opening.
More than 200 residents of both Wisconsin and Michigan showed up to get more information, said NWTC North Regional Coordinator Sally Miller-DeCremer.
She explained that the project grew out of a cooperation between NWTC and the Florence County Economic Development Corporation.
The kitchen was modeled after the Farm Market Kitchen in Algoma, Wis., one of the few shared-use kitchens in Wisconsin, Miller-DeCremer added.
To utilize the facilities, people pay an intake fee plus an hourly fee of $10, or $25 for a three-hour block. Time blocks are available 24 hours a day, but they must be scheduled in advance.
All fees will go toward utility costs.
Miller-DeCremer and Kitchen Assistant Sue Hoogland said that the low cost of using the kitchen is beneficial to entrepreneurs.
"There isn't a big overhead expense involved, since people don't have to buy a building or equipment," said Miller-DeCremer.
Only one food processing operation may in the kitchen at one time. Multiple people can be working in the kitchen, but they must be working on the same product.
"We want to avoid cross-contamination," said Hoogland.
Examples of food that can be produced in the kitchen include salad dressing, antipasto, barbecue sauce, salsa, raviolis, jam, jelly, and cookies.
Representatives from the USDA will watch processors make their product, then issue a license for the processors to produce and sell the product. The product can then be sold anywhere in the country.
After a little marketing help from NWTC, processors will be in business.
Miller-DeCremer and Hoogland hope that users will get a strong start in the kitchen, then continue the business out in the community.
A success story has already come out of the Algoma kitchen. Some ladies used the facility to prepare coated nuts that ended up being featured on shopping channel QVC and Paula Deen's cooking show, said Miller-DeCremer.
"We're hoping to see a similar story in Aurora," she added.
For more information about the Woodland Kitchen and Business Incubator, contact Miller-DeCremer at (715) 251-3790.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.