About the Program

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In November 2016, several Portland-based organizations collaborated to co-host a promotional Taste the World event to bring together the Greater Portland community over a shared love of food. The success of that event, made possible by sponsorship from Live and Work in Maine, led to the development of the New Mainer Culinary Entrepreneur Program, which supports immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs in the culinary field in Maine. The program provides business development assistance and financial support of entrepreneurs through a matching grant program.

The pilot phase of this program has just begun, so stay tuned to learn more!

The Program Vision

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The overarching vision of the New Mainer Culinary Entrepreneur Program is that Maine is a welcoming state that offers New Mainers the opportunity to: succeed in their personal and business endeavors, connect with the local community, and share their cultural traditions and values. We believe food is a valuable cultural broker for building connections in Maine’s increasingly diverse community. The participating organizations strive to accomplish this vision through the multi-pronged approach outlined below.

NMCEP Multi-Pronged Approach:

Taste the World Events: The partner organizations will host a series of Taste the World Dinner Events similar to the first event held in November 2016.  These events will not only help to sustain the program, but they will also create an opportunity to build community connections.

New Mainer Matching Grants: The New Mainer Matching Grants are intended to serve as financial support for New Mainer culinary entrepreneurs as they begin their own businesses in the culinary field. Recipients of the grant are expected to match a certain percentage of the program expenses. The grant covers the cost of many of the start-up expenses for the entrepreneur, including a membership at Fork Food Lab, ServSafe Certification, insurance, and licenses. 

Recipients of the grant receive:

  • Support from CEI’s StartSmart business development program
  • Support from Maine Access Immigrant Network
  • Three months Fork Food Lab membership
  • The opportunity to have their food featured at Taste the World Events
  • The opportunity to have their food featured at Fork Food Lab markets and at other local businesses


To learn more about the program or related sponsorship opportunities, please fill out the below contact form:

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