Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Samuel H. Yamashita

Reader 2

Tomás F. Summers Sandoval

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© 2023 Gabriela Camacho


Implemented in 2019, AB 626 created a new category in the California Retail Food Code known as a Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operation (MEHKO). MEHKOs are restaurants operated from private homes that allow the preparation and sale of meals that were previously illegal under state law. Californians were previously limited to cottage food laws which restrict home-cooked food production to non-perishable foods like baked goods. My thesis analyzes the progression of homemade food laws and how they impact home cooks. Additionally, many MEHKO owners and home cooks are immigrants, low-income individuals, or belong to BIPOC communities, groups that have traditionally faced barriers to opening a restaurant. I interviewed two MEHKO owners to gain an in-depth perspective on how they have navigated this policy and the cultural significance of their food. I argue that MEHKOs make owning a restaurant more feasible and enable the transmission of cultural foods, as chefs serve meals that are representative of their identities.