Most people have that one relative who—over years of handling secret family recipes, or just because they were born possessing the chops of a marquee chef—has inner-family cheerleading squads proclaiming them the best cook. And often, the cheerleaders aren’t wrong.
The problem is that making the leap from amateur to working pro is a daunting process to endure to the end. Some don’t even get that far, give up, and cite the uncertain steps ahead as the main factor derailing a delicious train before it even leaves the oven.
So Stock Pot Malden, a new culinary incubator that opened in early September, is here to help sweat the small stuff. Co-founder Emily Gouillart says the choice to plant roots in Malden came from the sheer spread of ethnic diversity there.
“It’s like a micro-United Nations,” she says. “Walking down the street you’ll hear Arabic, African, Ethiopian dialects, and so on. A lot of the women in these cultures are not entrepreneurs, but housewives with food that would make for amazing culinary projects. We want to grow culinary entrepreneurs and especially [empower] females, who are underrepresented in the industry.”
By giving access to a giant commercial kitchen, and other Stock Pot resources—be it the executive chef for recipe feedback, education on marketing, bookkeeping help, even explaining the difference between “hawkers” and “peddlers” as far as the exhaustive permitting process is concerned (something Gouillart, a former DC congressional wonk, is well-suited to help people demystify)—Stock Pot has already won fans, and amassed over a dozen projects. Some are existing businesses they provide support to, while many others are those just getting off the ground, like the new Vietnamese street-eats food truck Saigon Alley (see: sidebar). Promising ideas also become contenders for future investment, as the team becomes an equity shareholder of select projects, supporting them until ownership switches over after a new business (catering, food truck, packaged food) has been “incubated.”
The whole endeavor is the brainchild of Gouillart and some retired finance types who for years wanted to form a company designed to achieve public and social missions through a for-profit business model. One focused on empowering small, multicultural, and female-owned businesses at the local level as an engine for economic growth.
“Let’s say you’re a Haitian immigrant woman in Boston with imperfect English, or an Afghan refugee with killer dumplings,” says Gouillart. “You have a hard time getting information or even learning what what kind of food business you want [to start]. We help anyone with talent, [as] you don’t have to be an immigrant or nervous woman to get confused by [local] regulatory systems.”
STOCK POT MALDEN. 342 PEARL ST., MALDEN. 781-605-1426.