Culinary Entrepreneurship

Somerville Arts Council’s Nibble Entrepreneurship program (NEP), empowers members of our local immigrant communities to explore what it entails to launch a culinary career.  Our first “batch” of NEP participants started in early 2015 and comprise a collective of cooks who hail from Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, India, and Somalia-by-way-of-England. What is unique about the program is that it not only provides business mentoring, it allows participants to share their talents and test out their products through SAC programming by 1) teaching cooking classes for the public; 2) vending and giving demos at festivals; and 3) holding pop-up restaurants. It is a hybrid program, marrying entrepreneurship and cultural programming.

During year one of NEP, students took a series of classes—taught by city officials and local food business experts, including Casa B’s Alberto Cabré and Taza Chocolate’s Alex Whitmore. We have numerous partners, including city departments: SomerViva, OSPCD and ISD; as well as local organizations like the Welcome Project and Accion. 


NEP members Estela Calzada (center) and Madhu Nene (right, with her husband Shashank) served up delicious eats at the Nibble Open Kitchens event in June 2015—a group final project.

NEP was launched at Union Square’s Kitchen Inc., a culinary incubator that closed its doors in September 2015. We are now working closely with a new culinary incubator, Union Kitchen, located just outside of the square. However, a larger shared kitchen with dining space is needed in the area. And so the Somerville Arts Council is exploring the creation of a multi-use culinary space in Union Square that would include a kitchen incubator and commissary, a large event space and storefront. It would provide a space for culinary entrepreneurs to make food and test out their products and menus—and it would provide the public with a place to gather, take cooking classes—and taste the cultural diversity of our city.

We welcome any input and involvement this project and any NEP matters. NEP is currently accepting new participants on a rolling basis. Comments or questions: Somerville Arts Council, phone: 617.625.6600, x 2985; Email:

Some of our NEP Partners