What government department do I ask if I need to have a licensed commercial kitchen to sell cakes? I have no clue if I need to or not because montana isn't listed in the big list.
You need to go to the Health Department for all the rules and regulations in your county.
In the state of Montana you need to have a kitchen that is separate from your home and that has been checked and approved by health deparment in your county. Montana does not allow home baking and selling
Hope that helps!
Shucks. Ok, so do they have the info on the web or should I wait til monday to call. I have sold a few cakes that I made in my home...I hope I don't get in trouble. I have 2 kids at home, so starting my own shop right now is out of the question. I doubt I will make enough money to pay for daycare let alone a shop! Plus, I want to stay at home til they are in school. I need to better my craft...
What should I do?
If you go to www.mt.gov, click on the "Business" tab at the top and then scroll down to "Food Industry Licensing" it will give you the state regulations. This is the bare minumum that is required from the state. Different counties may be more particular about specific (ie commercial equipment vs home use, dishwasher required or not etc). A call to your county health department should get you those.
As far as what to do to better your craft? You can give away as many cakes as you want - friends, family, schools, nursing homes, fire departments, police departments etc. Just call and check to see if that's is allowed first. Some places are very wary of "free" anything. You can also check into part time work at local grocery store, bakery etc. Your basic skill will improve even if you don't have creative control.
You can also check in with churchs, caters, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. about renting kitchen space. If your worried about getting in trouble the solution is to stop doing cakes for profit. If none of this seems plausable and you decide to fly "under the radar" I strongly suggest that you do NO advertising-rely on word of mouth only.
Hope that helps!