Two weeks ago, Nina Murray left her full-time job to bake crackers.

Actually, that’s what she was doing before, only she was making them for someone else. Murray worked for Dandelion Catering Co. in Portland. (Before that, she was a production baker at Standard Baking Co.)

“When I was at Dandelion, I was making a whole lot of crackers for cheese boards,” she said.

Murray has been a member of Fork Food Lab for five months, but realized she needed to spend more than nights and weekends in the lab in order to “make a go of it” with her side business, Mill Cove Baking Co.

Murray, who now spends five or six days a week at the lab, makes two kinds of crackers. The Every-Thin is her cracker version of an everything bagel. And The Real Dill is made with – you guessed it – fresh dill. You can find Murray’s crackers in 17 southern Maine stores, from Brunswick to Scarborough. Her newest customer is The Francis, the new boutique hotel on Congress Street.

“I feel like every day she has a new wholesale account,” said Neil Spillane, general manager at Fork Food Lab. “She’s just ramping up big time. And her crackers are unbelievable.”

Murray is using a 6-foot sheeter recently donated to the lab by Wild Oats Bakery in Brunswick. Her super-thin dough now gets rolled out into big sheets in a matter of seconds.

“That was a huge game changer for me,” she said. “That increased my production by 50 percent.”

Murray said she looked at a couple of other commercial kitchens before settling on Fork Food Lab, “but ultimately the price couldn’t be beat.”

“If you break it down hourly, even a part-time membership ended up being $7 an hour, and most other places charge $20-$25 an hour,” she said. “But also – and this sounds cheesy – the synergy here has been amazing. Just having that hive mind. There’s always a company that’s a step ahead of you. They’ve done what you’ve done, so there’s a lot of really helpful information in the collective mentality here.”


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