TURNING PASSION INTO GOLD
Alchemist’s commercial kitchen space fuels entrepreneurs’ dreams.
WRITTEN BY MADISON LISLE
PHOTO BY CANDISS KOENITZER
Jacob Sacks and Tiffany Rosso of Alchemist Kitchen meet
customers and vendors at the Florin Road Farmers Market
Fresh, local produce is more accessible for needy families in Greater Sacramento thanks to Alchemist Community Development Corp., which since 2004 has made it possible for vendors at local farmers’ markets to accept food stamps.
Now staff members at the Alchemy Kitchen are helping make entrepreneurs’ culinary dreams more achievable, too.
Dollars for change
Alchemist CDC’s executive director, Tiffany Rosso, and administrative manager, Jacob Sacks, oversee the Alchemy Kitchen project. Rosso has more than 20 years’ experience in helping nonprofits, having previously worked with March of Dimes and Off the Mat Into the World. Sacks has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis, and has combined his passion for food and social justice in the Alchemy Kitchen project currently in development.
Alchemy Kitchen is a food-business incubator serving low-income populations in Sacramento, offering low-cost access to a licensed commercial kitchen, assistance with food-safety regulation compliance, business-planning support, and other entrepreneurial growth opportunities.
In addition to funding support provided by a USDA Local Food Promotion Program planning grant and in-kind support from donors, Alchemy Kitchen also received more than $12,000 through Whole Foods Market’s 5% Day, which allows 5 percent of purchases made in the store to go to a local cause. The money Alchemist CDC raised earlier this year will go to opening a kitchen space and providing education for budding entrepreneurs.
“Starting [food] businesses need a commercial kitchen space to ramp up and scale [up],” Rosso says. “This project will help a lot of [them] get to that level.”
The facility will allow about 30 small, local companies to begin and thrive. Alchemy Kitchen will offer expert-taught classes and training on starting, growing, marketing, and expanding a small business, and finding distribution partners. The first kitchen, which is currently in development, is set to open in the Franklin Boulevard Supermercado in Sacramento in 2020. Meanwhile, training for business owners will begin in the next year, and Mack Road Partnership’s Valley Mack Farmers’ Market — where those business owners can find fresh, local produce — opened for business in June and is currently being managed by Alchemist CDC."
Who could potentially benefit from Alchemy Kitchen?
“Anyone who is very passionate and has an entrepreneurial spirit and wants to turn their passion into a business,” Sacks says. “Alchemy provides everything a new business needs to start up. We provide scaffolding to help them find their way.”
In the next few years, Rosso and Sacks hope to open at least three more Alchemy Kitchen spaces to continue supporting more locals who want to create livelihoods that revolve around food.
“Wanting to see people succeed is what drew me to Alchemy,” Rosso says. “Using food as an economic driver is the thing that brings this all together. I love [connecting] people around food, culture, and health.”
Madison Lisle is a writer and journalist who loves a good research project. She loves buying local, meeting artists anywhere she goes, and seeking out local vegan food. Read more of her work and talk to her on Citrusandsugar.com.
For details about Alchemist CDC and Alchemy Kitchen, visit Alchemistcdc.org.