Salt Lake County Opens "SPICE" Kitchen for Refugee Entrepreneurs
Many refugees who come to live in Salt Lake County would like to make a living using the skills they brought with them from their home countries. Salt Lake County has partnered with the International Rescue Committee to open a new incubator kitchen, that gives many of those entrepreneurs a place to start.
The new commercial incubator kitchen is called “SPICE” or “Supporting the Pursuit of Innovative Culinary Entrepreneurs”. Today, county employees, IRC officials and members of the refugee community are celebrating with sushi, fried plantains and a hot sauce that offers a unique flavor and a swift kick to the pants. All of the dishes are complements of local refugees like Lucy Thanghliang who’ve already kick started their small culinary ventures. Thanghliang came to Utah from Burma
“They are like, giving an opportunity to people that have really good talents to come out of there house and be creative and do things that they wanted to do,” Thanghliang says.
Salt Lake County already offers workshops and technical assistance to refugees and immigrants trying to start a food business. But, there hasn’t always been a space for them to prepare the food and hone their skills, until now.
Ze Min Xiao is the refugee services liaison for Salt Lake County. She says while serving refugees, she’s found many of them are great cooks.
“Form the community’s perspective, Salt Lake County is becoming more and more diverse and there are people out there who are craving the different types of foods that we are currently not offering yet,” Xiao says. “So the idea of the SPICE Kitchen incubator is to combine those two assets.”
Ten individuals are currently enrolled in the county’s incubator-kitchen program. They can begin working in the kitchen once they’ve gone through sixth months of training. Twenty-eight participants are in line to join the program next year.