AP NEWS

New food operator license helps home cooks, bakers

October 16, 2018

SOUTHINGTON, Conn. (AP) — Lauren Wodnicki’s kitchen is clean and she’s going to keep it that way. It’s a requirement of the cottage food operator license she is pursuing to start a home baking business, Lauren Loves Cake.

Wodnicki and others hoping to sell food they’ve prepared in their kitchen started to apply for a new license that became available on Oct. 1 after years of lobbying the General Assembly.

The town resident started baking cakes and other desserts after making her own wedding cake, an undertaking her wedding planner advised against. The cake turned out well, and her wedding planner suggested she make them for others.

She’s hoping to attract customers looking for beautiful cakes that are also tasty. Many of the well-decorated cakes Wodnicki has eaten aren’t necessarily the best tasting.

“It’s all taste for me,” she said.

Home bakers are required to take a three-hour food safety course and allow state Department of Consumer Protection inspections of their kitchen. While preparing food for sale, children can’t be in the kitchen area. Many of the sanitary requirements are those that you’d find in a restaurant, Wodnicki said. Food sold also has to be marked with an ingredients list.

Diana Gomez, a Fairfield resident and supporter of the cottage food licensing process, said health problems haven’t been reported from home kitchens in other states.

Allowing home kitchen sales can help aspiring bakers and cooks build a customer base before making a major investment in a commercial kitchen. It can also provide a part-time job.

“It helps families supplement their income,” Gomez said.

Wodnicki, who works a full-time job at Aetna and has two young children, said making cakes is something she does in her spare time. Through online videos and trial and error, she’s been able to create elaborate and unique cakes for friends and family. All her cakes, frosting and cookies are made from scratch.

“Some of it you learn just by doing. Other things you just Google,” Wodnicki said.

Her favorite cake recipe is still her grandmother’s.

“I haven’t found anything that beats it,” Wodnicki said.

She has an application for a home business before the Planning and Zoning Commission. She’ll be delivering her baked goods and won’t have customers at her house.

Leslie O’Brien, consumer protection spokeswoman, said nine license applications have been received since Oct. 1.

Gomez said the licensing process was opposed by some bakeries worried about increased competition from home business with low overhead. She said the license allows those working “under the table” to do so legally and with better food safety training.

“These people are probably already selling under the table,” Gomez said. “It’s a good thing. They’re going to have a license, they’re going to know how to safely handle.”

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Online: https://bit.ly/2NJCeVJ

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Information from: Record-Journal, http://www.record-journal.com