Restaurants & Bars

Micro-Entrepreneurs and El Pajaro CDC Commercial Kitchen Incubator in Watsonville

Melanie Wong | Jul 31, 201311:30 AM     2

Nearly four years ago, I sat in on a workshop in Watsonville and heard about a proposal to establish a commercial kitchen to help micro-enterprises get started in the food business. While filled with enthusiasm for the idea, the path to development would be long and arduous. Well, the leadership of El Pajaro Community Development Corporation found the capital and has worked hard to make it happen. On Monday, the 8,000 square foot facility fit with all the equipment a fledgling food business would need celebrated its grand opening. I had the chance to meet some of the micro-entrepreneurs in residence and sample their wares.

El Nopalito Products (831-707-5018) prepares and packages de-thorned cactus pads for sale at local retailers. The nopales are available in whole pads, diced, or cut into 1” lengths. The owner and his son served up a cactus salad to show how to use the product.

My Mom’s Mole is developing a powdered mole mix to reconstitute at home with water or stock. Guanajuato-style, the family recipe uses more than 25 ingredients. Sampled with fresh corn tortillas, the deliciously intense mahogany-hued mole will be available in a range of spice levels.

Borba Farms is based in Aromas and sells its organic fruits and vegetables at the markets in Aptos and MPC, plus more than 10 farmers markets in the Bay Area. By adding prepared food products to its stand, Borba hopes to improve profit margins. It expects to start selling grilled padron peppers seasoned with sea salt and olive oil at the Los Altos market in August. (http://www.montereybayfarmers.org/apt... )

Maggie's Farm Bake Your Own Granola kits were presented by Maggie Driscoll (Maggie.driscoll@sbcglobal.net, 831-688-0558). She is a caterer and avowed raisin hater, who dreamed these up for customers who want to have fresh baked granola with do-it-yourself add-ins.

E. C. Organics, an Aromas farm, is pickling and canning its surplus produce. It offered up tastes of coarse-cut cucumber relish.

The Night Kitchen by Tia, makes giant cookies without added dairy. Loaded with pecans and more chocolate than can be imagined, the desserts found a fan in Congressman Sam Farr. After lunch, I noticed someone helping him pack a berry shortcake dessert to go . . . lobbyists may want to take note that sweets get this representative’s attention.

The facility also includes commissary services and bays for mobile food trucks. The kitchen’s ten work stations are rented by the hour on a sliding scale. El Pajaro CDC can also assist with business planning, financing, and navigating food safety regulations. The commercial kitchen incubator project’s services are available to residents of Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties. The contact to sign up as a client, donate or volunteer is
Cesario Ruiz
El Pajaro Community Development Corporation
Commercial Kitchen Incubator
412 Riverside Drive
Watsonville, CA
Email: cesario@elpajarocdc.org

“Kitchen Cooks Up Economic Opportunity”

“Kitchen incubator project celebrates grand opening”

“The path to more jobs may be some good eats”

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