Can all food be created equal? Mama's Hot Tamales, everyone's favorite MacArthur Park tamale establishment, is bringing their democratic ideals, community service and unique cooking knowledge to Pasadena. Their small business kitchen incubator provides a Health and Safety Department approved kitchen for caterers who are looking to start or support their own business. At a time when jobs are scarce and many Angelenos are looking to tap into new sources of income, Mama's Hot Tamales' kitchen incubator makes it possible for those who are culinarily inclined, but lacking the proper equipment, to prepare food in a safe space and sell it on their own.

The incubator has only been open a few months, explains Executive Director Joe Colletti, and currently 20 cooks are using the space. Plans are in development for an apprentice-operated business and job training restaurant, where people from the community can learn the skills required to pursue jobs in the food service industry. As per the Mama's Tamales' philosophy, cultivated by Colletti and program director Sandi “Mama” Romero, the education is free and geared towards entrepreneurs in the community who may not have access to the skills and resources they need to start a business.

Training in basic food-prep skills, as well as how to be a barista, waiter, restaurant manager, cook, restaurant marketer, sidewalk vendor, and caterer will be provided.

“Our real mission here is to help very low, low, and moderate income households to become self-sustaining through developing a food-based business,” says Larry Bressler, General Manager at Mama's Pasadena. “We felt this was a need underserved in the Pasadena area.” The training program aims to give cooks additional business skills to help support their culinary interests. Bressler, who teaches at Pasadena's California School of Culinary Arts in the evenings, will offer recipe development training to budding cooks as well as critique of their culinary skills to ensure their food products are marketable.

The future Mama's Tamales site is located at 45 N. San Gabriel Boulevard in Pasadena (just north of Colorado Blvd), however it's only open to caterers. Stay tuned for updates on the cafe.

Mama's Hot Tamales (the original): 2122 West Seventh Street L.A., (213) 487-7474.

LA Weekly