Local chocolate-covered-strawberries business blossoms thanks to Fairborn kitchen incubator

Jennifer Larochelle-Starbuck has been a bit of a chocolate-covered-strawberry aficionado for much of her life.

“My friends and family and I love chocolate-covered strawberries, and we always have,” the 2005 Carroll High School graduate and Beavercreek resident said. “But what we were tasting always seemed to be expensive, and they were not always the best quality.”

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So a decade ago, Larochelle-Starbuck started making her own chocolate-covered strawberries, to glowing reviews from her hard-to-please family members. Some of her friends started asking for the treats to be part of their wedding reception.

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Larochelle-Starbuck was working in the health-care field at the time, and the chocolate-covered strawberries she made were a side gig of sorts. But that changed earlier this year when she read a Cox Media Group Ohio online story about “Spark Fairborn,” a city-launched kitchen incubator designed to provide entrepreneurs with access to a certified commercial kitchen and its equipment, to help them develop and launch food-related enterprises.

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And that's exactly what Larochelle-Starbuck did. Her Gourmet Berries LLC now offers chocolate-covered strawberries in white, milk and dark chocolate and in various patterns for entertaining, gift-giving, special events, or, perhaps, personal indulgence. Orders are hand-delivered throughout the Dayton area rather than shipped, to preserve quality.

“I’ve gone all in on this,” the business founder told this news outlet.

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Larochelle-Starbuck said Spark Fairborn’s commercial kitchen, as well as its dry-storage space and supportive community that provided assistance, was just what she needed to launch her business.

That’s music to the ears of Rachel DesRochers, the incubator kitchen manager who launched the Incubator Kitchen Collective in northern Kentucky five years ago and who is partnering with the city of Fairborn on the Spark Kitchen initiative.

“It’s amazing to see this stuff happening,” DesRochers said.

For more information, go to www.gourmetberries.co. Note that there is no "m" at the end of the web address.

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