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Who does this guy think he is???

St. John's Church, Sandy Hook, CT

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Welcome, welcome to my first blog post as the Basement Baker. Why am I the Basement Baker? Since last October, I’ve operated American Artisan Food and Bakery, LLC out of a church basement in Sandy Hook, CT.

Though these days I work full-time for the Taunton Press (Fine Cooking‘s parent company), I started the bakery last October during a brief intermission between jobs. But I really I started the company–in my head–when I first moved to Sandy Hook four years ago. The seed for the idea was planted, so to speak, when I realized that I had a small organic farm just down the road from my house, and that similar farms were sprinkled throughout Connecticut. Some of them had bakeries, and others did not, and I thought that this would be a unique opportunity to fill a need. Of course, I found out later that I was not the only one who thought it would be cool to start a small bakery.

I want to emphasize that I was inspired by the small farms because I grew up in Missouri and went to school in Indiana but actually live closer to cows on the East Coast than I did in the Midwest. I’m not sure if I would have appreciated where the food I eat comes from had I not settled where I did.

Starting a small food production business is relatively easy to do, and there are plenty of companies that will file the paperwork for you (for a fee, of course). The most difficult thing for me was finding a kitchen (though in some areas, you can actually use your home kitchen-your local health department can tell you).

For the three years before I started my business, I had my ear to the ground, networking, finding out who my local competition was, and searching for a rentable kitchen where I could get licensed. I found a 19th century church with a basement kitchen. If you’re looking for a kitchen and are an active member of a church or other organization, start there. If you aren’t, this is where networking comes into play. You may have to spend time getting to know restaurant owners or even small farmers who are interested in building a kitchen from scratch in order to establish a connection.

As I write this blog I’ll be sharing my experiences establishing the bakery, sourcing local ingredients, juggling the business with a full-time job, and most importantly, the secrets to marital bliss while trying to live the dream of owning your own business! I would love for other business owners to share their experiences, too. If you are looking to start your own food business, please, share your thoughts and questions in the comments field, or email me – basementbaker@bakelocal.com.

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