Santa Ana’s 4th Street Market Cooks up the Next Generation

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A food hall to end all food halls, Santa Ana’s new 4th Street Market opened last week. The enormous complex boasts more than a dozen food stands, as well as incubator kitchens, a grocery store, a butcher shop, cooking classes, and a public demonstration kitchen in its 30,000 square feet.

The most exciting component of 4th Street Market is the inclusion of the East End incubator kitchens. Providing encouragement and support for artisanal food makers, the 10 separate spaces offer everything burgeoning culinary entrepreneurs need to create their products.

In 2012 the passage of the California Homemade Food Act struck a blow to the cottage food industry, tightening sanitary restrictions and making it nearly impossible for people to make and sell small batches of food out of their homes. The East End kitchens are an accessible option for those starting out.

Beyond providing much needed work areas, the scope of the 4th Street Market extends to helping with branding, marketing, and trade expertise. There is even the option of a business assessment in the beginning of the process to help entrepreneurs hone their ideas and strategize about how their products might fit into the current marketplace.

In addition to the kitchens and food shops, 4th Street Market provides the opportunity for an online presence through Foodbeast Kitchen and Studio, where content can be created in the video-production facility. The kitchen and studio can also host book signings, demos, and cooking classes.

For purveyors like Izumi Hamagaki, owner of juice bar Radical Botanicals, the new food hall changed the direction of her life. A bartender in New York, Hamagaki was looking to go in a new direction. Dubbing herself a “mixtress,” Hamagaki serves up “rawktails,” or “libations to enliven your being.” A healthy version of an Orange Julius is a standout with a combination of tangerine, lemon, and orange juices tempered by vanilla, honey, and almond milk.

Not satisfied to do one thing, Hamagaki is taking full advantage of the facilities by developing products that can be easily marketed. Next up are “all-natural, cold-pressed sodas, like raw ginger beer.” Other flavors like lavender/lemongrass and orange blossom/chamomile will feature essential oils and alkaline water. Hamagaki would like to have a bespoke juice and soda program that focuses on “healing people.”

The food stalls at 4th Street Market offer a wide variety of options, from lamb-filled waffles at Ink Waffles to Chinese fusion tacos at Dos Chinos. Chunk-N-Chip ice cream sandwiches started as a food truck before finding a brick-and-mortar home at 4th Street Market. The inventive flavor combinations, like French toast ice cream studded with candied spicy bacon, sandwiched between warm oatmeal/hazelnut cookies are worth the trip to Orange County.

For both established vendors or those just starting their kitchen adventures, 4th Street Market is all about leaving creative types free to create.

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