New state law paves way to legally sell food cooked in people's homes

A new state law signed by Governor Jerry Brown this week is paving the way for people to legally sell food they've cooked in their homes.

One woman tells KTVU home cooking helped her afford to live in the Bay Area. 

C.O.O.K (Creating Opportunities Opening Kitchens), an advocacy group of home cooks, says this new law makes California the first state to allow people to sell food to the public that's prepared and cooked in their homes. 

Inside her home in Oakland, Sophie Speer has been preparing food for client's dinner parties for five years. She says she has worked as a private chef cooking for clients in their homes. 

"We're all yearning for community and connection with people and food has historically been a great way to do so," says Speer. 

She was working for a nonprofit and turned her passion for cooking into a side job to make ends meet.

"The food thing became a lifeline for me to be able to afford living here," says Speer.

She and other supporters of the new law say it will help home cooks establish a legitimate business.  

"The home cooks will have to get a permit. They will have to apply to the environmental health agency. An inspector will come out and inspect their home kitchen and they can come back at any time," said Liz Allen, legal counsel with C.O.O.K Alliance.

Allen says many home cooks are low-income women and immigrants. 

The permit and inspection process will be done on a county level.

Speer says there's already an underground home cooked food industry and this new law will make it safer for consumers.

"We think at least 100,000 people were selling online that we can track in California only," says Allen.  

"It has really changed my life economically.  It's really changed my life in terms of my community. People I meet and the connections I make, it's given me a path to something I love doing," says Speer.

There is another legal hurdle. For home cooks to legally sell their food, the counties they live in have to opt in to the state law, which goes into effect January 1, 2019.

Supporters say San Francisco, Alameda and Los Angeles counties have already expressed interest in doing so.