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updated: 11/7/2017 2:27 PM

Food pop-ups starting Sunday in Elgin

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  • Rocky Lopez, owner of Tortilleria Chihuahua in Elgin, will take part in food pop-up events Nov. 12 and Nov. 17 in Elgin.

      Rocky Lopez, owner of Tortilleria Chihuahua in Elgin, will take part in food pop-up events Nov. 12 and Nov. 17 in Elgin.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer, 2016

 
 

Startup food entrepreneurs will showcase their goods at the first New Kitchens on the Block event Sunday in downtown Elgin.

It will feature Auntie Amber's Kreative Konfections of Bartlett, serving baked goods including vegan, peanut- and gluten-free; Lulu's Whole Food Kitchen of St. Charles, serving vegetarian soups; BeaUnique Latin Kitchen of Elgin, serving Puerto Rican and Mexican fusion; and Tortilleria Chihuahua of Elgin, serving dishes made with all-natural flour tortillas.

Amber Kasak of Bartlett said she's excited to showcase her new business, Auntie Amber's. She'll offer "regular" desserts and options for people with special dietary needs. Her specialty are Rice Krispies Treats, cupcakes and edible cake dough.

"We just want to make sure everyone can enjoy desserts," she said.

The event, also known as a pop-up, is 5 to 9 p.m. at Local-Vore, 11 Douglas Ave. Two more solo pop-ups will follow, also at Local-Vore, with Tortilleria Chihuahua Nov. 17 and BeaUnique's Latin Kitchen Nov. 18. Tickets -- $18 Sunday and $10 Nov. 17 and 18 -- are at ilocalvore.com/attend/#/all.

The pop-ups are part of Dream Kitchen EDU, a four-month Elgin-based program that launched in August for would-be entrepreneurs who want to start a food business.

The initial plan was to have individual pop-ups for all the students, but some of them suggested a joint event, said Kevin Echevarria, CEO of Dream Hub/PKE Enterprises. "They are not yet established and don't have a clientele, so there was a little intimidation with doing their own pop-up."

The first Dream Kitchen EDU is going well, and another one is planned in February, Echevarria said. He partnered with Sybil Ege, former executive director of the Small Business Development Center in Elgin that closed last year, and John Richards, a 25-year veteran of the consumer packaged food industry.

Six students representing four companies are completing the program, after a couple of students dropped out early on because of the intense schedule, Echevarria said. "The students gave us a lot of feedback for areas of improvement as we continue to grow the program and do it better."

Kasak agreed.

"We definitely learned a lot. We're the first class, so there's some growing pains that I think need to be ironed out," she said. "Overall the teachers were great. Sybil is very knowledgeable, she's amazing at helping startups. And John ... he's been great, he's very supportive, and really reaffirms all our ideas."

Echevarria said he is working on expanding Local-Vore to 51 S. Grove Ave., to host a variety of programs. He hopes to open that location by February, pending an occupancy permit, special-use zoning approval and a liquor license.

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