The new Friday Night Food Fair and Artisanal Marketplace opens this week, and the nonprofit center's General Manager Larry Bressler is betting local foodies will like the changing cast of gourmet food trucks there each week, with hand-crafted jams, pastries and fudge to eat or take home for dessert.
"We wanted to bring something fun to the center and showcase the talents of the people who work here, and we came up with this idea," Bressler said. "There will be five or six food trucks and eight to 10 wonderful, interesting, hand-crafted" food products for sale.
Since it opened in July 2009 as Mama's Small Business Kitchen Incubator, about 150 food-related operations have used the professional state-of-the art kitchen at 45 N. San Gabriel Blvd., just off Colorado Boulevard.
"Fifty of our entrepreneurs want to be part of this Friday night event," Executive Director Joe Colletti said.
And that includes many of the most popular food trucks, including The Flying Pig and Slammin' Sliders, that got their start at the center, he said.
"Trucks have always been successful - they've been around for decades. But until recently they sold other people's food," Colletti said. "Now a lot of food truck operators are chefs putting their talents
Tables of baked goods, jams, jellies, fudge and other treats made at the center will appear on a rotating basis to give everyone a chance to showcase their food, Colletti said.
One of the center's artisans Friday will be Annette Starbuck, winner of this weeks's premiere episode of "Cupcake Wars." Colletti called it "the Food Network's pastry inspired reality show."
Another is Lisa Anderman, who comes to the center from Hollywood to bake gluten-free desserts for her fledgling company, Lisa and Mo Inc.
"I traded one kind of oven for a different kind of oven," joked Anderman, a former ceramic artist, who will be selling cupcakes and s'mores on Friday.
Anderman said she used her home kitchen as a "laboratory" to work on recipes, replacing flour with almond meal among other substitutes, but has found the center a great source of support and information for small business beginners.
"We all help each other, and that's how it should be," she said.
Starting Friday, the weekly market will run from 6 to 9 p.m. through October.
For more information, call Bressler, 626-744-9995, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
626-578-6300, ext. 4482