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Dari Henderson, current founder and head chef of Butter’s Sweet Treats, has always had a fascination with baking. Dari was Inspired by her memories of being a little girl baking in the kitchen with her grandmother. She decided to join the Culinary Workforce Training Program (CWTP) to share that same joy bringing homemade treats to children. Part of the inaugural cohort of the CWTP, housed in the No More Empty Pots Collaborative Community Centered Food Hub, Dari networked with happenings in the next kitchen over, only a dishroom away, to land her first gig as a sous-chef.

Michelle Elson-Roza, founder, and owner of MJERHelp was the first to enter and lease the Food Hub’s shared commercial kitchen space as a local food entrepreneur. She was located in the next kitchen over from CWTP and Dari's work caught her attention. Often Michelle would wander into the training kitchen to observe the students’ progress. She found herself drawn to Dari due to her zeal and eagerness to learn how to cook and eventually offered her a position within her team as the holidays approached. Over time, Dari provided support to Michelle in her catering gigs, which exposed her to the inner workings of a small food business. Thanks to daily culinary training, hours of knife work and on the job experience in the kitchens, Dari’s skills were honed and sharpened in preparation for a true feat of baking: 5,000 individually packaged treats.

Working together, Michelle and Dari fulfilled the massive order for healthy holiday treats in just one weeks’ time. MJERHelp provided three cookie recipes (Hopi Blue Corn and Lemon, Organic Rolled Oat Cookie, Pumpkin Snickerdoodle), while Dari provided one, a Pumpkin Oatmeal Bite. This was the first recipe and item sold under Dari’s new business, Butter’s Sweet Treats. Shipping had to be timed just right as the cookies had no preservative and were made of primarily locally sourced ingredients. After a test shipment to herself, Dari adjusted the recipe to ensure maximum tastiness upon delivery. 

This whirlwind experience led to a sense of pride in accomplishing something that seemed impossible given the time frame and the required freshness of product. Both Dari and Michelle were happy to have made a new connection with a major corporation in hopes of building new clientele to order local food from their businesses.

The week ended on a high note for both Michelle and Dari. MJERHelp went on to win the Wells Fargo Entrepreneurship Invitational for 2017, taking home $1,500 in seed money. Dari graduated from the CWTP in December and has since returned to work for No More Empty Pots as a Lead Production Assistant while continuing to create and promote Butter’s Sweet Treats through the shared-use kitchen.

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May 23, 2018!

Omaha Gives! is a 24-hour, online giving event where your donations fuel programs in the community. Our goal is to raise $20,000 to apply towards the NMEP Culinary Workforce Training Program. Meeting this goal supports the needs of one full cohort of eight participants!