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Can You Smell What Your Neighbor Is Cookin’? A Check-In On Implementation Of California’s New Home Kitchen Program

California home cooks like Akshay Prabhu are excited by the prospect of selling food from their kitchens to supplement their incomes.
California home cooks like Akshay Prabhu are excited by the prospect of selling food from their kitchens to supplement their incomes.
/Ezra David Romero/NPR

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This year, California became the first state to pass a law allowing home cooks to run businesses right out of their kitchens and sell homemade meals to hungry customers, allowing a cottage industry that had once operated clandestinely to come out into the open. 

A Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operation (MHKO) operates much like a mini restaurant, according to Riverside County’s Department of Environmental Health, which oversees that county’s MHKO program. Riverside is currently the only county in the state that is currently issuing permits under the program, which went into effect on January 1, 2019. Other counties, including San Bernardino, San Francisco and Alameda are starting the process of implementing their own MHKO programs and are keeping an eye on Riverside County in the hopes of informing their own ordinances. But still, there are those who have concerns that the law gives counties too much regulatory control and worry how that might work with city or municipal zoning laws outside the county’s purview. 

Today on AirTalk, we’ll check-in on how the implementation of this first-of-its-kind law is going, hear from a permitted home cook who also started an online platform to connect home cooks with customers, and talk about some of the challenges that still remain with implementation at both the county and city level.

If you are a Riverside County resident and are interested in starting your own MKHO, click here for more information on requirements and how to get started with the permitting process.

For a list of approved MKHOs in Riverside County, click here.


Akshay Prabhu, founder of Foodnome, an online platform that helps in-home cooks manage their businesses, he’s also a  permitted home cook in Riverside County

Ken Chandler, program chief for the retail food regulatory program at the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health, which oversees the county’s Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operation

Kathy Shin, an attorney with the municipal law group at Best Best & Krieger, she’s been working with cities through the permit implementation process