Michigan Cottage Food Industry

Celebrate the holidays with locally made craft foods, delivered right to your door.

Full disclosure: We’re really proud of Metro Times restaurant reviewer Noelle Lothamer. She was one of the first locals to leap upon the cottage food bandwagon, co-founding Beau Bien Fine Foods in 2010 with business partner Molly O’Meara. That also meant she was among the first to encounter the sales hurdles that small food producers face: Often too small to get a stall at Eastern Market, or faced with significant fees associated with fairs and other greenmarkets, it can be hard for a cottage food producer to get before the buying public.
That’s why Lothamer started the Detroit Holiday Food Bazaar in 2010 — “to connect small food entrepreneurs with customers eager to purchase unique local and artisanal products, both for themselves and as holiday gifts.”

The annual event rotates through different Detroit locations, throwing a spotlight on one city neighborhood each year. This year’s bazaar will be held in the Jefferson-Chalmers business district, at three different storefronts for a festive neighborhood shopping experience. Friday evening’s market will feature food trucks, and pop-up-turned-permanent coffee shop Coffee and (________) (yes, that’s really what it’s called!) will be open for the duration of the event at 14409 E. Jefferson Ave, Detroit. 
Other products on offer will be McClary Bros.’ “Old Timey Drinking Vinegars,” as well as goods from Great Lakes Smoked Salmon, Pete’s Chocolates, Sofia’s Selection, Chez Chloé and much more. The event is free and open to the public, with free parking at the northwest corner of Jefferson and Chalmers. —Michael Jackman
The Fourth Annual Detroit Holiday Food Bazaar takes place 5-10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at 14430, 14440, and 14401 E. Jefferson (at Chalmers), Detroit.
They Send You Cottage Food To Your Doorstep
Two twentysomething metro Detroiters have founded a special service for fans of local cottage foods. It’s called Mitten Crate, and it’s a cottage food subscription service. The idea is that you pay a flat monthly fee to receive a crate of Michigan-made, shelf-stable foods, ranging from salsas to jams to granolas to toffees to pickles and more. The endeavor should help craft food aficionados connect with local food producers they might not have had the chance to meet, while also aiding small producers reach beyond their immediate area. We spoke to one of the business partners, 25-year-old Andrew Chmielewski, who says Mitten Crate always tries to pack at least $40 of retail value into each box. Chmielewski adds that the packages would make good gifts for a food enthusiast in your life, and that subscriptions seem like a good fit for kids off to college. Monthly subscriptions are $35 a month, one-time purchases are $42. Orders can be placed via the startup’s website, mittencrate.com, or at 248-462-2551. —Michael Jackman