BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Nixtamal refers to a grainlike corn that has been processed to increase the nutritional value and prepare it for further use. It’s also the name of a new café coming to East Bakersfield that aims to apply the same idea to the community there.
Marah Meek loves the baking process. “I just love teaching people how to bake and how to come up with different flavors,” she said.
Meek is an adjunct instructor, teaching culinary arts at Bakersfield College. Being the in the kitchen and the classroom is all about transformation.
And transformation is what Bakersfield City Councilman Andrae Gonzales is trying to bring to East Bakersfield with the Children First Campaign.
“Children First is a nonprofit based in East Bakersfield, and working on providing enrichment opportunities to children on the east side and also improving quality of life for children and families on the east side,” said Gonzales.
The charity is now in its tenth year and looking to expand by opening Nixtamal Café.
“The nixtamal process is the process maize or other grains turn into a nutrient rich product,” Gonzales said. “We see this as a metaphor for what we are trying to do. We have this social enterprise that we are bringing people from the community who are looking for work who are looking for opportunities bringing them in for this process and our hope is to allow them to gain meaningful skills in business and culinary arts and they are able to move onto bigger and better things. So those quality skills they are gaining is that nixtamalization process.”
Meek will join the team, sharing her passion for pastry, teaching culinary skills and developing products. And the profits from the café will go right back into the Children First Campaign.
“This is a really good way to affect change in our communities. Giving people skills on how to improve their lives by getting experience and getting skills that will allow them to get better jobs in the future and build more knowledge, all of that is really important,” says Meek.
Gonzales says he hopes they can open an actual storefront for Nixtamal sometime this fall. But before the café opens, you can sample what they’ll be serving with a new monthly pastry box. The students in Meek’s class will help prepare those treats, and they’ll be available on the first Saturday of the month, beginning in March, although the first box is already sold out.
You can snag one for April on their website nixtamalcafe.com. Just a taste, of what’s to come.