Josephine Caminos Oría grew up with the inimitable taste of homemade dulce de leche
. Her Argentine grandmother, who often lived with Oría’s family in Pittsburgh, always kept a fresh jar of this sweet spread on hand—for breakfast, dessert, or anytime in between.
Recognizing that all-natural, preservative-free dulce de leche
was nearly impossible to find—much less understood—in the region, Oría began producing her own brand for sale at farmers markets in 2009. She used her Grandmother Dorita’s recipe, and named the company after her—La Dorita
But when it came time to increase production, and expand distribution to a Whole Foods or Giant Eagle, there was just one problem—there were no suitable commercial kitchen spaces for a food startup like La Dorita. So Oría and her husband, Gaston, have started their own.
The La Dorita Kitchen Share Space has just opened in Sharpsburg, and is a co-working space for food. The licensed, commercial kitchen is fully equipped—standard and convection ovens, stainless steel work areas, freezers and refrigerators—but aims to offer more than just physical space.
Oría says the plan is to make the kitchen a synergistic food incubator, offering consulting on topics from insurance policies and loans to small business resources and distribution networks. It's open to groups or individuals, and Oría hopes it can be a hub for artisan foodmakers.
A successful Kickstarter campaign, which ended last fall, raised over $50,000 to help convert the 4,000-square-foot space into the new community kitchen. Members will also have access to a bar and dining space for special events.
Since this type of facility wasn’t available when La Dorita first began production, the Orías had to convert their home kitchen into a commercial kitchen. With the co-working kitchen now open in Sharpsburg, the new goal is to convert an adjacent space into the official La Dorita production facility.
“Hopefully by 2014 we will be out of our kitchen and I will have gotten my dining room back,” Oría says.
La Dorita’s line of products—including dulce de leche
with dark chocolate and a dulce de leche
liqueur—are now available at Giant Eagle Market Districts, McGinnis Sisters stores, and Whole Foods in the mid-Atlantic region.
Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Josephine Caminos Oría