South Valley kitchen creates jobs, businesses

Posted at: 02/21/2014 6:28 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Steak rub and vegetarian lasagna – with a side of optimism.

There is a kitchen in Albuquerque’s South Valley that cooks up more than good food. It creates businesses and jobs and new food products, too.

It’s the Mixing Bowl, at 318 Isleta SW, a project sponsored by Bernalillo County government and the Rio Grande Economic Development corporation.

Since its launch in 2005, the Mixing Bowl has graduated 175 clients into the food industry, creating several hundred jobs. Right now 70 clients use the kitchen to develop products that may one day turn up in supermarkets and restaurants.

David Swan was busy preparing vegetarian lasagna for Skarsgaard Organic Farms customers when we arrived.

“I can make 80 gallons of soup right here,” Swan said. “That’s amazing. It’s so efficient. It saves time. It saves money.”

Phil Apodaca of Phil’s Gourmet sauces  was mixing up a batch of his Black Tie Steak Rub. He said he took the classes, got certified, and now, for a small rental fee, he gets to use the Mixing Bowl’s giant industrial kitchen.

“You do your own product development,” Apodaca said. “You do your own labels, you do your own marketing, you do your own sales.”

Overseeing the whole operation is a veteran hand in the food trade.

“I had a long career as an executive chef and as a restaurant owner,” said Ernie Rivera. “To see somebody and be able to help them realize their dreams – that’s what this is all about.”

Brand new Mixing Bowl start-ups this week include a line of flavored popcorn, a mobile pizza business, and – you guessed it – another brand of salsa!