Little City Kitchen Co. Blog

My stories about local food, fermentation, and formerly organic baby food
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Welcome Birth & Baby Fair Friends!

Hello new friends!  Thanks for stopping by the Little City Kitchen Co. booth at the Birth & Baby Fair.  As you know, we’re launching a frozen organic baby food line in late January, and we teach hands-on baby food cooking classes out of our commercial kitchen in Emeryville.

The B&B Fair was a big success for us…  It was the first time I shared some of the new baby food flavors with such a large audience, and let me tell you, people went crazy for them!  The fav among the parents was the coconut brown rice and sweet potato, but the kiddos loved the Cuban black beans with plantains and mango.  All in all, a great day!

Cooking Classes:

We have two upcoming baby food cooking classes scheduled in December. Hurry if you’re interested, space is filling up quickly!  Special class price of $55 for anyone who attended the Birth & Baby Fair.

Apples to Beets: Organic baby food for 6+ months:
Sunday, Dec 5, 12:30pm – 2:30pm

International Baby: Organic baby food for 9+ months:
Wednesday, Dec 8, at 7pm – 9pm

***** To register, please email me and I will confirm your spot  *****

A Peek Behind the Scenes

I write a weekly blog about running Little City Kitchen Co.  It’s sort of a behind the scenes look at the starting this company; the good, the bad, and the ugly…brutal honesty as you’ll see.

Here are some of my favorites: LCKC is Born talks about how I came to start the company, A Surprising New Direction tells you about the week I decided to focus exclusively on baby food, and A Fish Out of Water is one of my most honest blogs where I talk about my first really crappy and discouraging week.

Feel free to add any comments to the blogs.  They usually come out Friday mornings.  Hope you enjoy the inside scoop…I have a lot of fun writing about all my adventures.

Give the Gift of Cooking (A Great Holiday Idea!)

Interested in a “not-so-subtle way” of telling your significant other what you want for the holidays? Sign THEM up to receive information from me about gift certificates and packages offered at Little City Kitchen Co.  Just click here to fill in their email address, and they’ll get an email from me in early December with the details.

Here’s a look at our gift baskets that include: a gift certificate for a cooking class of your choice, a black LCKC embroidered apron, & some other fun baby items.  Cost is only $75, plus $7.95 shipping.

Note – We never share contact information without your permission.  If you fill out their information, I will only send them emails pertaining to holiday gift ideas – promise!

Again, welcome to Little City Kitchen Co, and I look forward to getting to know many of you.  The baby food should be available for sale beginning in late January at select farmers markets, so stay tuned for more information on where and when.

To stay in touch, check our our website, or select the “Like” button on our Facebook page.  And have a Happy Holidays!

The Big Debut…

It’s here folks…Little City Kitchen Co’s big debut at the Birth & Baby Fair this Sunday.  This week has been filled with the last minute cooking and tons of prep-work leading up to the show.  Ever since Little City Kitchen Co. was born, I’ve been sharing my ups and downs with you guys each week.  Told you all this was going to be the most honest blog you’ve read, and this week is certainly no different.

The return of the “what if”…

Most of you know how excited I’ve been about exhibiting at this show.  I’ve been up late brainstorming ideas, designing recipe cards, making holiday gift baskets, among other things.  I had a very interesting (and somewhat unexpected thing) happen to me this week: all my fears about starting this company came rushing back at once, and I had a moment of sheer panic!

This happened after I started researching other baby food vendors exhibiting at this show.  These guys are well-established, global, successful brands…  And here I am, feeling like a rookie just getting started.  What if my workshop is a flop?  What if nobody buys a single gift certificate?  What if, what if, etc…

But then I realized something; my baby food is completely different then theirs!  I like the fact that I’m starting small.  I like the fact that my food has an International spin.  And I think most parents will love the fact that my baby food was made only a few days ago…exactly like they’d make it if they had the time.  So once I realized that I’m supposed to be different, the confidence started to come back.

I try to lead a pretty positive life, but so often those pesky “what if” voices in our heads tend to be negative (I’m sure you guys can relate).  I have a particularly inspiring friend, so instead I chose to hear her voice in my head saying; “But Jill, what if you’re a raving success?” That thought feels SO much better!

Samples, samples, samples…

After I got over myself, I turned my focus back to planning for the show.  Even though I’m not selling baby food on Sunday, I’m still handing out samples to generate some excitement leading up to my launch at farmers markets.

In classic “Jill-fashion”, I tried to figure out how many total samples I wanted, and then break it down by how many of each flavor so I knew how much of each recipe to make…and about 30 minutes later I was pulling my hair out!  In this situation, my sister Wendy would look at me and say “take a chill pill.”  So I did.  I decided to cook as much as possible, bring what I have, and hand food out until I run out.

First Taste Face

I’ve decided to do a contest during the show…calling it the “First Taste Face.” We’ll snap a picture of the little ones trying the baby food for the first time and capture their initial reaction.  I’ll be posting pictures of the finalists on the blog so stay tuned for those..

I’m taking some time off for Thanksgiving, so no blog next week.  A wrap up of the Birth & Baby Fair will be coming out Friday, December 3, so happy Thanksgiving until then!!

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back…

I’m starting to see a pattern emerge…  My weeks can be broken down into one of two categories: 1) two steps forward, one step back, or 2) one step forward, two steps back. As you can imagine, it’s a little hard to make significant progress if you combine the two!  Luckily I seem to have more of the former weeks than the latter.

This week was filled with somewhat un-fun details like more research on permits, entity forming, and writing a whole lota checks.  That being said…I’m feeling like I got a lot accomplished which keeps me motivated.

Permit me…to Vent

Ok folks, let’s talk about this permit thing…  When I first started Little City Kitchen Co., my plan was to do some small event catering and personal cheffing.  As most of you know, that changed pretty quickly when I realized I didn’t really love either of those things (and the whole reason I left the corporate world was to pursue something I love).  Had I stuck with either of those, getting my business permits would have been a fairly easy process because I’d be providing a “service”.  You pay a couple of fees, and bam you’re in business.

Everything changed the moment I decided to make baby food.  Of course, I didn’t know this at the time, which is probably not a bad thing because it would have been even more daunting.  Once you decide to “manufacture a product” it’s a whole new ballgame.  I’ve spent the last several months speaking with the state health inspectors, the county health department, and everyone in between trying to navigate the permit process so that I may sell at farmers markets…and let me tell you folks, it aint easy.

I wish I could say that I finally had answers, but alas I still do not.  My target launch date at farmers markets was January 2011.  I’m still hoping to make that happen, but it largely depends on how a few things fall into place.   It’s in my nature to follow the rules anyway…and since there’s a heightened sensitivity around anything “baby”, I’m being extra-careful to do things the right way.  Which means the farmers market waits.  Which kinda sucks.

Baby Taster Corner

Ask and you shall receive!  Many of you have been asking for some pictures of the baby tasters enjoying the Little City Kitchen Co. baby food.  Here you go!

Here’s a gorgeous picture of Eve with her baby blue eyes.  Mom, Chandra Alexandre, fed her the sweet potatoes and roasted parsnips which she was really digging.

Meet Rex, who as you can tell loves his pickles.  When he’s not chomping those, mom, Jody Kohner, feeds him the Thai curry root vegetables with millet.  Looks like I need to create a recipe around pickles.  Any ideas Rex?

These pics were so cute that I had to include a “before” and “after”.  In the first shot, Parker is eagerly opening up for his favorite dish, the Cuban black beans with plantains, mango & coconut.  Mom, Connelly Murphy, is going to have her hands full with clean up!

The Birth & Baby Fair is only 1 week away, so next week’s blog will have all the final details.  Happy Friday Everyone!

Pounding the Pavement…

There’s a phrase in the sales & marketing world that I heard and used repeatedly in my past professional life: “pounding the pavement.” You can do all the research and planning in the world, but often you need to get out from behind the desk and just start talking to people.  In the hotel world, we call this a “blitz”.  I decided to take my own advice and hit the streets to talk about Little City Kitchen Co. this week.

Step 1: Strategize and Prepare.  I decided that I was going to focus on promoting the upcoming baby food cooking classes, so I designed flyers and postcards that were easy to leave in stores.  Got my crafty on.  I put together a little “blitz” bag with pushpins for corkboards, tape, business cards, etc…  Proper materials – check.

Step 2:  Legwork.  Instead of just showing up at stores unannounced, I’ve always found it more effective to call in advance and at least get the name of who you should see.  So I did my Google searches of baby stores in 2 different towns, got 6-8 store names and started calling.

It surprised me that I was a tad bit nervous for the first phone call.  Ironic since I used to train sales managers on doing exactly that!  But, I scripted out my 10 second schpiel and gave myself pep talk that included the words “get over it, Jill”.   Mission accomplished, and contact information received.

Step 3: Start Pounding. The first few stores were a little rocky.  One (who shall remain nameless) wouldn’t even stop what she was doing to acknowledge my existence.  But, I kept going and the visits got immediately better.  One store in particular, Monkey Bars in Alameda, was adorable and carried some of the coolest, eco-friendly kids items I’ve seen.  The shop owner & I brainstormed some really fun and creative opportunities that I hope to be able to share with you soon.

Step 4: Follow Up.  Emails, thank you cards, ongoing dialogue…this is probably the most important step and the one most commonly overlooked.  So that’s what I’m doing now.

Why Baby Food?

Let me tell you, I do get some funny looks when people realize that I’m not a mommie.  They ask me why I’ve chosen to launch a baby food company when I don’t have kids of my own yet.  The best answer I’ve come up with is that I love food, I love kids, and I love the idea of growing healthy eaters. It’s kinda that simple for me.

Tis the Season…Really?

Everyone’s looking for the great holiday gift ideas (let’s face it, the dudes always need a little help in this department), so I thought I’d make it a little easier this year.  If you’re interested taking any of our cooking classes, sign THEM up to receive an email from me about gift certificates and packages offered at Little City Kitchen Co.  Just click here to fill in their email address, and they’ll get an email from me in early December with the details.

Easy Holiday Appetizers

I’ve decided to add one final “adult” cooking class of the year at a special price of $55.  Join me on Sunday, November 14th at 3:30pm for a cooking class on making Easy Holiday Appetizers.  Email me if you are interested in attending.

That’s it for this week.  Happy Cooking until next week!