Schools Cook Up Courses on the Food Business

Wall Street Journal | Posted: 11/20/2015

Want to run a food business? There’s a course out there for you.

Culinary schools and universities are trying to tap into the surging interest in food entrepreneurship with programs aimed at teaching people the ins and outs of the industry. Some of the programs target people who already work with food, training them in the basics of running a company; others focus on people who have a business background but don’t know how the food-making field operates

“We are seeing the appetite for more and more information for culinary-business education,” says Jeffrey Zurofsky, an adjunct professor at the International Culinary Center’s entrepreneurship program in New York.

Former lawyer Natascha Hess signed up for Portland State University’s Business of Artisan Food program, a 15-week online course for aspiring or current food-business owners. By the time she launches The Ginger Pig, a Chinese streetfood-themed food truck, she’ll know how to do everything from price her menu items, such as Chinese borscht and pot stickers, to avoid hiring challenges.

Recently, she asked the entire class for feedback on her truck’s logo. “We’re inspired by each other,” says Ms. Hess, whose Thornton, Colo., business is set to launch next year.

Another recent student is Jenny Griffo, who attended a three-day, $3,900 course at the Culinary Institute of America’s Food Business School with her husband and business partner, Michael. The couple needed help to get their Petaluma, Calif., distilling business off the ground. “We needed help not only articulating but fine-tuning our vision,” says Ms. Griffo.

Meeting others in the same boat and sharing ideas was key, she says. With the help of instructors, the couple also crafted a pitch to distributors.

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