New program helps D.C. residents launch careers in the culinary arts

D.C.'s government is partnering with small business owners to help district residents launch careers in the culinary arts.

At Union Kitchen in Northeast Washington, entrepreneurs will get a low-cost, low-risk leg up in launching a business.

Samuel Whitfield, the co-owner of Curbside Cupcakes, said," We have a lot more space for our production, which gives us an opportunity to have bigger orders for more clients."

Whitfield said his 3-year-old business has already created more than 20 jobs.

He hopes to add at least a couple more workers, depending on sales.

"We have to have infrastructure first before we start hiring, and that's what we're doing now," Whitfield explained.

At Mayor Vincent Gray's bi-weekly press conference, Whitfield was offered as an example of entrepreneurs who will benefit from the district's partnership with Union Kitchen.

Union Kitchen owner Jonas Singer said, "We hope to have about 30 businesses operating out of here. From which we hope to be able to place many, many district residents within opportunities that are functioning out of this space."

It's the city's first culinary incubator, training residents to work in commercial kitchens. The program has financial backing from the D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES).

Meanwhile, Union Kitchen will provide business owners with a cleaning crew, web design and even accounting.

Singer added, "And so here at Union Kitchen, we let our members focus on their product, and we take care of all the rest."

Ultimately, by creating jobs and job creators, district officials say the goal is to reduce D.C.'s unemployment rate.

"We know that it's gone down to about 8.5 percent," DOES Director Lisa Mallory said. "But we have more to do."