Growing up with seven uncles, seven aunts and 68 first cousins in the Bronx helped Richmond’s Cindy Howell learn to cook.
“If you wanted to eat, you had to cook,” Howell says.
Now that Howell lives in Richmond, she’s taking that mantra a step further by creating creative takes on healthy foods to feed the community.
The owner of Granny’s Kitchen, a business inspired by Howell’s grandmother, who created culinary magic by “making the most creative meals from nothing,” is one of 17 success stories to come from Kitchen@812, a nonprofit food business incubator based in Contra Costa County.
Howell came to Richmond after serving in the military and began working as a nurse. In Richmond, where healthy food options are scarce, Howell was inspired to create a business that would serve creative meals with healthy ingredients.
She wanted to prove, for example, that kale chips can be more delicious than potato chips.
Through Granny’s Kitchen, which is now thriving, Howell has accomplished that mission, according to Kitchen@812.
Not only is Howell feeding a community healthy foods, she is teaching her cooking skills through “Raw Food” cooking demos out of Kitchen@812’s commercial kitchen. The demos intend to teach Richmond residents “how to reverse diabetes and lower blood pressure by introducing raw plant food into their daily nutritional diet,” Howell said.
Howell has also created cold pressed juices infused with organic fresh food, veggies and agave that have become a popular item on her catering menu at the local Farmers Market.
“The food is a reflection of the chef herself, vibrant and energy-boosting,” officials with the nonprofit said.
Howell had the vision for success, and part of that vision was realizing Kitchen@812 could be a valuable resource for her new business. The nonprofit’s Business Development Center gave Howell access to an affordable, shared commercial kitchen space. It also guided Howell through the steps of marketing and operating her business.
Kitchen@812, which is operated by the West Contra Costa Business Development Center, offers free business assistance and access to an affordable commercial kitchen space to support the dream of aspiring “food-preneurs.” To learn more, visit www.wccbdc.org or contact Raquel Toledo, Communications and Program Manager, at 510.691.7439.