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Spice Kitchen holds conference for food entrepreneurs

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The International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Salt Lake City’s Spice Kitchen Incubator program carried out its fourth annual Food Entrepreneur Round Table on February 22nd, bringing lunch and discussion to a group of budding entrepreneurs focused on building a future in the food industry. This event continues to grow every year, offering workshops to community entrepreneurs—both New Americans and others—of all ranges of experience. 

Kiki Sharma presents her keynote speech at Spice Kitchen Incubator's fourth annual Food Entrepreneur Round Table.
Kiki Sharma, part-owner & manager of Bhutan House Restaurant, was the keynote speaker at Spice Kitchen Incubator's Food Entrepreneur Round Table. Photo: Xavier Quintana/IRC

The day began with a welcoming address and keynote from Kiki Sharma, a graduate of Spice Kitchen Incubator and manager at Bhutan House Restaurant. Her restaurant specializes in preparing traditional tandoori dishes, including cuisine from India, Nepal, and Bhutan. At just 24 years old, Kiki is a participant of the Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. She emphasized the importance of continued learning, even once success has been achieved. 

“Kiki was incredible!” Jackie Rodabaugh, Spice Kitchen community relations coordinator, said. “She's taken a huge role in supporting her family and is an inspiration to us all at [Spice Kitchen Incubator]. We are all so proud to see how far she's come, and know that her future is really bright.” 

Community experts volunteered their time to lead breakout sessions and panels on storefront management, hiring and human relations, packaging and wholesaling products, marketing through social media and storytelling, finding a brick and mortar space, and accessing capital. 

Spice Kitchen hosts fourth annual Round Table
Natalie El-Deiry, executive director at the IRC in SLC, talks with other panelists at Round Table. Photo: Xavier Quintana/IRC

“The Food Entrepreneur Round Table is a conference that [Spice Kitchen Incubator] hosts every year to bring together community Food Entrepreneurs to allow them to network and attend workshops/talks held by other, more established entrepreneurs.” Xavier Quintana, the food-business scale-up AmeriCorps VISTA, said of the event. The workshop topics that were touched on include brand storytelling, search engine optimization, hiring/payroll, and accessing capital.  

“[The Round Table] helps clients by giving them training in additional business skills and allows them to expand their professional networks,” Xavier said. 

The day concluded with five additional community experts sharing resources available for entrepreneurs in addition to the six others who presented during the day. The number of Round Table attendees increased from 37 in 2019 to 45 in 2020, including 24 attendees outside of the current Spice Kitchen Incubator participants. 

Spice Kitchen hosts fourth annual Round Table
Kathryn Idzorek, Spice Kitchen incubator manager, speaking at Round Table. Photo: Xavier Quintana/IRC

We would like to give a warm thank you to all of Spice Kitchen Incubator’s partners: Salt Lake County, Women's Business Center of Utah, Utah State University Extension, Suazo Business Center, and Microbusiness Connection Center

We also want to thank our sponsors at the Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development and Salt Lake County's Office of Regional Economic Development for their generous and continuous support of this event. 

Stay up to date with Spice Kitchen Incubator’s work by following them on Facebook>.