Sunday, August 22, 2010

Give the gift of an artisan food career

A really good idea hit a couple of weeks back.

I’ve been trying to write it down accurately here, but getting my arms around all the possibilities has been a bigger job than I expected.

So I’m going to give up on fully describing it and get the idea out for consideration.

The Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen is a world class food processing facility in an unbelievably beautiful location. It is also a teaching facility where people can learn about artisan food processing.

You could give your loved one the gift of an artisan food career. This would be ‘experiential gifting’ at a very high level of coolness for the right persons lucky enough to get one of these packages.

The goal is twofold.

The first goal is to nurture people into their own professional, profitable, enjoyable food enterprise. The gift of a career in artisan foods. The gift of an opportunity to become a food entrepreneur.

The second goal, when appropriate, would be to have the Innovation Kitchen serve as the preparation site for those new food lines.

Artisan food entrepreneurs could live anywhere in the world and run their production, packaging, storage, and distribution through the Innovation Kitchen. Being virtual at its yummy best.

It’s the first time we’re trying this so we’ll be screening for people with patience.

The outline is that a person with a beloved family recipe(s) would be given the gift of an opportunity to start a small business to make and market that recipe commercially.

The Innovation Kitchen can do the information sharing and early training through distance learning tools. We can help with business planning and development as well as recipe development and testing. We can also supply purchasing support. When ready, people can come to the Innovation Kitchen for hands on training, using commercial equipment to prepare their recipes for commercial sale.

My goal is to run a test program this year. We will limit the number of these ‘artisan food career’ packages to 100.

I think it’s a great idea. I’d love to give it to myself, and that’s just how we’re going to design this project. We’re setting it up so this opportunity is made available in ways that fit into people’s lives. And we’re setting it up to empower people to experiment with artisan food entrepreneurship.

I write a lot about the value of slow startups. This opportunity at the Innovation Kitchen is an almost perfect example of a slow startup in action.

Just like slow foods, you can take your time creating a new enterprise with great local ingredients. You nurture it through early gestations. If you give yourself time to grow your enterprise, you get to live out that idea about the journey being the most important part of life not the destination.

This year give the gift of an artisan food career.

The Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen