Starting a Baking Business – It’s Not a Cakewalk

At least once a week we receive email here at TasteTO from someone wanting us to cover some small local food business. The majority of these appear to be bakery-type businesses selling cupcakes, cookies or custom-made cakes. The emails are often referrals from friends or customers, and sometimes come in the form of professionally-written press releases from the business owners themselves.

As we’re always looking to support local independent food artisans, we always check out these leads, and often find professionally-designed websites, gorgeous photos of even more beautiful products, and what appears to be really skillful bakers and artisans wanting to take their hobby to the next level. Unfortunately what we also almost always find is that these businesses are operating illegally out of a home kitchen.

That’s right, I said “illegally”. People who make food at home and sell it to the public are breaking the law, because it is completely and utterly illegal to sell food to the public that has been prepared in a home kitchen.

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Someone Left the Cake Out in the Rain…

For some, it’s a dream come true, for others, it’s something they fall into and love, but lots of people end up running food-prep businesses that they start from home. Some of these are catering businesses, many more are baking businesses where folks use their love of pastry and mad skills to bake, decorate and sell cakes and pastries, doing what they love and making a little cash on the side.

I have family members, friends and know of a number of online (blogger) acquaintances who are all either running or starting a home-based food business.

Unfortunately, they’re all really, really illegal.

Home Business Advocate Beverly Williams explains about food-prep businesses on her site:

You must call the Department of Health in your area FIRST to find out if you are allowed to prepare food for sale in your home kitchen. The answer will be NO! I have never found a jurisdiction that allowed food for sale to be prepared in a home kitchen. Some areas do allow you to have a separate commercial kitchen for this purpose but the cost may be prohibitive. In some areas, you may be able to find a commercial kitchen that is not being used all day that might be willing to rent their kitchen to you. Most jurisdictions will require you to have your own business license as well.


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