If you have a talent, such as baking, why not put it to use and make a few bucks on the side? And with a little persistence, perhaps those few bucks will add up to a few more; and like a good many entrepreneurs, you may even be able to start your own business.

Isn’t that the “American Dream?”

Well, it’s a dream that could be realized for scores of home bakers should a bill that’s been proposed by 2 state lawmakers passes the Senate and eventually gets the Governor’s signature.

Say you have a talent baking apple pies. Conceivably you could sell your homemade apple pies to anyone with the provision that you state they’re homemade.

Problem here?
Well, perhaps, if the big “bakers lobby” has its way and petitions lawmakers to put the kibosh on the bill.

Under current law, all home-baked goods that are offered for sale to the public must be made at a commercial kitchen that has been subject to inspection by the state Department of Health and Senior Services.

For (Jolaine) Richmond and other aspiring entrepreneurs who want to sell their goods to the public, they need to have a commercial kitchen installed in their homes at a cost of about $12,000, or, more popularly, work during off-hours at restaurants, pizzerias or even the local ambulance squad building, which often has a state-approved kitchen.

Another home baker expressed similar sentiments.

"I have the capabilities, but I don’t have the law behind me. I can’t afford to get a brick-and-mortar shop," said Grace DeStefano, a custom cake baker from Bedminster.

But under a bill unanimously approved by the state Assembly this spring, cottage food operators, such as Richmond and DeStefano, would be allowed to sell such foods as bread, rolls, cakes, pies, cookies and pastries to the public without having to prepare them at a state-approved kitchen.

The sale of foods that require refrigeration or require additional cooking after purchase would be prohibited under the bill.

The bill would only require home bakers to post a "clearly visible placard" at the point of sale, advising consumers that the food was prepared in a kitchen in a private home and not subject to department of health inspection.

"This measure will allow individuals to earn extra money through the sale of their home-baked goods at places such as craft shows, fairs, farm markets and roadside stands without incurring significant overhead costs," said Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose (R-Sussex) who co-sponsored the bill (A1761) with Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson).

"In today’s tough economy, we should be looking for opportunities to help moms and dads supplement their incomes. This is a common-sense solution," she said.
Before becoming law, the bill requires approval from the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee and the full Senate, before being sent to Gov. Chris Christie for consideration. Similar bills have been adopted in 33 states.

DeStefano, who has been lobbying since 2009 for the passage of the bill and testified before a Senate health committee hearing in 2011, said legislators’ primary concern has been public health and safety. Some bakery owners, she said, have also stepped forward to oppose the bill, saying it gives home bakers an unfair advantage over their traditional bakeries.

"My argument to them is that we’re going to be doing a lot less business than an established bakery. We’d have only one person doing the cooking. I don’t see where there’s direct competition," said DeStefano, who organized a Facebook campaign, NJ Home Bakers’ Bill, in support of the legislation. She also supports an amendment to the bill that would require home bakers to pass a health safety course.

It’s probably not only the competition that concerns the bakers, but the requirements they themselves have to meet in order to run their businesses; such as permits, insurance costs, taxes, etc. They’re seeing the smaller entrepreneurs as having an unfair advantage in that, according to this legislation, none of those requirements need be met.

I’ve been in the bakery business myself. Sure, I might not like the idea of someone selling baked goods out of their house, yet how much of a dent are they really going to put into my business?

I’m thinking it’s gonna be chump change. And the competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since its something that’s becoming a rare commodity today.

David vs. Goliath so to speak!

Let them bake cake!