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Florida Culinary Accelerator @ Immokalee

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Come to our 3rd Annual Immokalee Culinary Connection Day on March 27

 

Let us help you transform your recipe into a profitable business!

Breaking News: Guadalupe Roastery is signing a major investment deal with a venture development group on March 9! Read about it here.

 

We host school field trips, cooking classes and other events! Kids and adults can tour the accelerator, learn a few culinary skills, put together a lunch, and eat a fantastic, healthy meal. We teach the Seminole Tribe adults and children healthy eating classes.

 Call us!

 

Business Development Manager Ruth Fehr and Culinary Program Manager Ahmed El

       The Florida Culinary Accelerator @ Immokalee

 

Are you a home cook who is constantly complimented on your baked goods and believe they would be successful in the retail market? Or maybe you're a small food business that just can't afford the equipment or costs of getting into the retail market.

Whether you're a chef, farmer, home cook, small or large food business, the Florida Culinary Accelerator @Immokalee can help. It's operated under a public-private partnership with the county Office of Business & Economic Development and the non-profit Economic Incubators Inc. We offer a high-tech, state-of-the-art commercial shared kitchen and production space and provide our members with mentors who can help with nutrition, food safety, food testing, business plans and more. So far, we've helped 26 chefs and food startups, leading to one graduate opening her own bakery and another current member getting her products in Wynn's Market, Amazon, and distributed in several states by two distributors.  

Our food startups and caterers can earn money and promote themselves by participating in a program that offers catered weekly $12 Wednesday lunches to members of the county's business accelerator, the Naples Accelerator. We also work with the Seminole Tribe to provide healthy cooking classes for children and adults.

Our 5,274-square-foot state-of-the-art culinary kitchen and production facility offers shared-use cooking and food processing space, dry and cold storage for a broad array of products, produce, sauces, baked goods, juices and beverages. A micro-market, Woodstock’s Market, at The Naples Accelerator, off Pine Ridge Road, enables our culinary accelerator members to showcase and sell their products, if they desire.

Our Culinary Program Manager, Ahmed El, and Business Development Manager, Ruth Fehr, have decades of chef, nutrition and food experience, but we also offer other mentors. The  University of Florida’s Southwest Florida Research & Education Center in Immokalee (IFAS) provides an onsite food-testing lab to determine your product's nutritional values, a descriptive analysis and more as part of their fee-based services. If you need a business plan or other business help, we can provide that free through our partners, the Florida Small Business Development Center at Florida Gulf Coast University and SCORE Naples. In addition, under a three-year agreement, experts from the University of FloridaFlorida Gulf Coast UniversityFlorida Southwestern State College and Hodges University will provide assistance to help grow our startups. We also work with a national food consultant who can help take your product to the next level!

The accelerator is located at the Immokalee Regional Airport, a federal Free Trade Zone, and is funded by the county, state, USDA and private donations. Watch this Naples Daily News ABC7 video to learn more about our new culinary accelerator!

  FCAIRacks

The accelerator, located inside a renovated warehouse, is designed for use by farmers and cooperatives, startup food companies, home-kitchen chef entrepreneurs and established small food businesses that want to grow their business to the next level. However, it's also available to mid-size food companies, retail and food service companies and commercial users. We hope that future phases will include an alcohol-distillation machine and an HPP machine, a hyperbaric non-heat pressurization-pasteurization process that will keep food, produce and juices fresher and safer for longer periods.

 

 

Immokalee, the second poorest municipality in Florida, was chosen as the location because it’s Collier County’s agricultural center. Immokalee is a federal Promise Zone – one of 22 high poverty areas nationally and the only one in Florida. Collier County also has been named a StrikeForce County, a USDA program that brings economic opportunities to high-poverty rural communities by helping leverage their assets. 

The locavore movement is growing nationwide and Immokalee is poised to grow its brand, Made @Immokalee. Local farmers and chef entrepreneurs often struggle to produce goods that require a certified commercial kitchen because they’re expensive to establish and maintain. But studies show shared commercial kitchens, such as the Florida Culinary Accelerator @ Immokalee, have a positive impacts on the economy because all facets are affected – farmers, suppliers, marketers, printers, packagers, buyers, consumers and more.  

Our culinary accelerator will enable local chef entrepreneurs and food businesses save on the high costs of commercial-grade equipment and pay-as-you-go kitchens that often restrict their ability to start or expand their food businesses. Our culinary accelerator meets the regulatory standards of local, state, and federal agencies and our program provides culinary and agribusiness entrepreneurs with culinary classes, financial, business, technical, marketing and food certification help, as well as other programs and services needed to give chef entrepreneurs a jump start in a competitive market.

Our amenities and licensing help allows our members to overcome the challenges of complying with local, state and federal food safety regulations, while ensuring safer products for consumers. Our members will have the potential for venture funds so they can see their culinary creations become a reality — and their food businesses expand and succeed!

So far, three-star Michelin-rated French Chef Christian Le Squer  of Paris has signed a contract to work with our accelerator to help with a fundraiser dinner and judge an international competition in which the winner will be mentored by Le Squer. He'll mentor that chef in Immokalee and in Paris and help that chef create a product that will be solely made at the accelerator and marketed by our Woodstock's Market. We're also negotiating with celebrity chef Art Smith about partnering with us, and several local chefs also have expressed interest.  

We hope the accelerator will be a true catalyst for Immokalee by helping local and Collier County residents, iTECH culinary arts students, the Boys and Girls Club of Collier County's Blue CanTEEN culinary program and chef entrepreneurs and food business owners to start or grow their food-related businesses.      

 

Need more information?

If you're interested in a membership, here's more information on pricing and options. Or contact our managers for more information. Ahmed El, the Culinary Program Manager, can be reached at 249-5911, ext. 703 or ael@theculinaryaccelerator.com, and Ruth Fehr, our Business Development Manager, can be reached at 249-5911, ext. 704, or rfehr@theculinaryaccelerator.com.

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Page updated on March 8, 2019

 

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