Council clears way for cooks to sell food made in their home kitchens

In a pair of votes last week the Boston City Council cleared the way for home cooks to make and sell food out of their own kitchens. The new law covers “cottage foods” that don’t easily spoil, like pastries, tortillas, dried fruit, and pasta.

“This ordinance is not for large corporations to set up shop,” said Councilor Julia Mejia, who sponsored the measure. “It’s for small, minority, and immigrant entrepreneurs who want to share their food and their culture with their community.”

State law already allows home cooks to sell shelf-stable foods, but leaves it up to cities and towns to implement their own regulations. Until now, Boston had no formal process to obtain residential kitchen permits.

Mejia told WBUR’s Radio Boston she believes the new regulations will open up opportunities for home chefs who don’t have capital for commercial kitchen space.

“The start-up costs for being able to operate a business can be cumbersome, especially if you don’t have the money to have a brick and mortar,” she said. “So the idea is people are able to incubate right out of their own kitchens.”

One of the people who plans to start making food right away is Andree Entezari. He’s a Boston University master’s student who says he’ll make an Iranian fruit leather called lavashak to sell at farmers markets.

“It opens up so much opportunity, not just for economic development, but for your local community — engaging with your local community through food,” he told Radio Boston.

The law takes 30 days to go into effect. Applicants will have to take a safety course and allergens awareness training to get a license from the city.
Mejia says she hopes this will be the start of a larger process. She says she hopes home cooks will eventually be able to sell hot foods, like tacos, curries, and noodles, made in their own kitchens.

This article was published by WBUR 90.9FM on March 31. The Reporter and WBUR share content through a media partnership.