Young Clintonville baker's Kids in the Kitchen flourishes

JIM FISCHER
editorial@thisweeknews.com
Elijah Roher-Smith, 10, has started a home bakery called Kids in the Kitchen, donating a portion of the profits to charity. He is pictured at his Clintonville home, beside the zucchini plant that produces the main ingredient for his zucchini bread.

Online baked-goods vendor Elijah Roher-Smith receives and processes orders, prepares the ordered items from scratch and, in most cases, delivers them.

Such is the life of the small businessperson – with an emphasis on small – for 10-year-old Elijah.

Kids in the Kitchen, Elijah's baking business, was cooked up in the spring as a collaborative effort with friends to sell items at the Clintonville Farmers Market.

But when the COVID-19 coronavirus made working together unworkable, Elijah – encouraged by his parents, Jen Roher and Ryan Smith, who is an editor for The Columbus Dispatch – decided to take the concept online.

"I've done cooking since I was 5, and I was interested in baking even before that, I think," Elijah said. "My mom would make really yummy things for me, and I wanted to try and make them myself."

Roher said the Clintonville family, after discussing the best ways to launch the startup, decided just to "take it live, start taking orders and see how it goes."

She said most customers connect through the Kids in the Kitchen Facebook page, facebook.com/KidsInTheKitchen2020, on which they can ask questions, learn more about the business and link to the website to place orders.

"The easiest is zucchini bread, but I really enjoy making the lemon-blueberry pound cake," Elijah said. "It's a little more complicated and a little more fun.

"The one I don't need a recipe for is brownies."

Roher said they are looking to add and substitute some items to create a fall menu. Elijah said he plans to make items with apples, and he might look at pies and jams for fall, as well.

"But I'm going to keep doing brownies," he said.

The enterprise always has had a charitable aspect to it; Elijah donates a portion of his profits to the Children's Hunger Alliance.

He said he received a special order recently from a family member from out of state. The order came with a check and a request to bake as many treats as the check would allow and donate them to a local organization. Elijah made more than 100 zucchini muffins and gave them to the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center, which added them to its Senior Breakfast Club deliveries.

"Elijah rose to the challenge and really delighted so many of our area seniors with his generous donation of time, energy and, of course, delicious baked goods," said Aly Hartung, the CRC volunteer coordinator. "This token of love really made our seniors feel cared for."

"For a young man to go to the trouble of making up dozens of muffins to put into the CRC's breakfast lunch box was truly amazing to me," said CRC client Joan Loomis. "I am tickled pink that a young man thought enough of the seniors in and around his neighborhood to give of his time to make us this tasty treat."

"It's also become a little about our neighborhood," Roher said, with Elijah cooking for and making deliveries to neighbors and groups, such as his soccer team and people at his school, Clinton Elementary School. Elijah also said he is becoming interested in cake decorating and might invest some of his profits into decorating supplies.

Kids in the Kitchen might still involve some of Elijah's intended partners. He said the family is trying to find ways to connect other children who want to bake and have all of their individual menus linkable through the website.

Because he likes to experiment in the kitchen, having the business has been important in this time when many typical activities are restricted, Elijah said.

"I saw a change once orders started coming in and he had deadlines to meet," Roher said.

"It keeps me busy," Elijah said.

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