Submitted by Brian Aranda, Marketing Assistant
Bon Appétit teams love playing a role in the communities in which we work, but supporting cooking related enterprises isn’t one we get to fill that often. That’s why the Bon Appétiters at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia enjoy their partnership with the Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises (CCE) so much.
CCE is one of the nation’s most comprehensive commercial kitchen centers, designed to be an engine for creating food related jobs and businesses. Bon Appétit staff consulted in the design and development of the center’s kitchen and commissary space, which provides workspaces and resources to emerging food entrepreneurs in the area. It’s giving a leg up to lower-income people who would not otherwise have these resources, and they’re in turn creating more jobs within their communities.
The CCE includes state-of-the-art, shared-use commercial kitchens and food storage space that can be rented at affordable hourly rates. The Penn team buys some of the budding entrepreneurs’ goods for campus cafés, giving these small business owners a much-appreciated opportunity to break into what can be a tough market. For example, one of the CCE’s newest culinary entrepreneurs, Sheeba Khan, came to the United States 12 years ago with her husband and three daughters — and a love of cooking. Some personal events later, she realized that life was too short not to pursue her passion, and she began working with the CCE. Sheeba’s Indian fusion dishes, such as chicken seekh kebab roti rolls with cilantro and mint raita, will be featured in Penn retail dining locations in the fall semester.
For its residential dining program, Bon Appétit worked with the CCE in identifying and training interested culinarians in bakery operations to help execute cookie and other snack recipes developed by Director of Specialty Culinary Programs Jim Dodge. Since the beginning of this partnership, the culinary center has provided cookies, cakes, jams, jellies, and nutritional drinks that are featured in Bon Appétit’s campus retail and residential locations.
The Penn team continues to work with the CCE to develop strong new food brands that will excite the student population as well as provide a strong community support mechanism for local food entrepreneurs.