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COVID can’t deter launch of Crave food truck, catering business

The birth of her business is thanks to her dedicated work ethic, the MGM Culinary Arts Institute at Holyoke Community College, and Holyoke SPARKS’s EforAll (Entrepreneurship for All) program.

“It has been a dream of mine for a long time,” Ortiz says.

After graduating from Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, the Connecticut native moved to Western Massachusetts to be closer to her family. While in Cleveland, Ortiz had been a frequent visitor to its outdoor market.

“There were so many food trucks, and I tried to eat at them as much as possible,” she remembers. “I fell in love with the idea to have my own food truck.”

In 2018, Ortiz became a part of the MGM Culinary Arts Institute Class of 2020 and spent two years perfecting her kitchen skills and learning everything about the business of food. She was very interested in learning about how to use local ingredients.

“It’s super important to use local ingredients because it keeps the local economy thriving, and you use better, organic produce, avoiding added chemicals or preservatives,” she explains.

Before perfecting her ingredient lists, future menus and finding her actual food truck (eventually purchased in Hartford), Ortiz yearned to learn more.

In the summer of 2019, Ortiz saw an advertisement posted at HCC, promoting a pitch contest that was sponsored by Holyoke SPARK’s EforAll program. Her pitch yielded first place in the contest and a $1,000 prize.

“Making the pitch to get into the program was great because it helped me really get my thoughts in order,” Ortiz adds.

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