Along with the farm-to-table movement, commercial kitchens — in the form of incubator kitchens — are changing the way we eat today. Thanks to the new crop of shared-industrial kitchens, food entrepreneurs are cooking up their dreams. These city-licensed production facilities rent space to certified food handlers, who turn locally sourced farm-fresh ingredients into interesting, healthful, ready-to-eat food.
Kitchen in the Market, Kindred Kitchen and City Food Studio, all in Minneapolis, and GIA Kitchen in St. Paul are among the spots that provide commercial space, appliances and equipment that help small businesses save on start-up costs. Entrepreneurs rent space in one of these commercial spots to make products on a larger scale before committing to a manufacturing facility.
But the real value for these entrepreneurs in the commercial kitchens is in the relationships these spaces help foster.
Take City Food Studio, in south Minneapolis, home of Gustola Granola; Pashan raw, superfood snack bars; Tempeh Tantrum tempeh; Rise Bagel Company’s artisan bagels, and Eat for Equity catering.
“There’s so much creative energy among these artists,” said founder Journey Gosselin. “When they’re in the kitchen together, they just start talking and sharing ideas, about everything — new flavors, where to source ingredients, or marketing, packaging and distribution.”
If Gosselin has attracted an energetic and innovative group of entrepreneurs, it’s because he is one himself. He’s a skilled carpenter, painter, tile layer and plumber who renovated on his own much of what was an old Mexican restaurant.
“I had no idea jack-hammering a cement floor could be so much fun,” he said with a laugh.
Gosselin, 47, is fast-talking and quick-witted, with an upbeat vibe. Raised in New York City, he graduated from Grinnell College in Iowa and then landed in Minneapolis, where he baked bread for Gelpe’s (the Twin Cities’ first artisan bakery), designed theater sets for Jeune Lune, worked for an environmental lobbyist, the state attorney general’s office, and finally for Target, which he recently left to devote himself full time to City Food Studio.
“Getting started is the easy part,” Gosselin said. “Now we’re at the point where we need to make some investment decisions around growth. We’re considering purchasing a freezer, walk-in cooler, and creating more shelf space,” Gosselin said.
“This way a tenant could contract directly with a farmer to purchase 1,000 pounds of produce in season to freeze for the year.
“Or maybe we need a second kitchen. There’s a lot of opportunity.”
With its fresh interior of white and black tile and pale green walls, City Food Studio is a warmly lit and inviting gathering place for pop-up dinners, cooking classes and gallery space that has sparked a range of artistic collaborations.
Gosselin plans to join forces with Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center, a metalworking studio across the street. Bakers could go there to cast their own cookware, such as rosette cookie irons, for example.
In between dealing with all the details of running a business — the budgeting, paperwork, maintenance, plus hosting open houses and tours — Gosselin continues to pursue his own creative dream of making cheese, and perhaps baking bialys.
“I love making bialys,” he said. “Like everything, it’s a work in progress.”
City Food Studio, 3722 Chicago Av. S., Mpls., 612-315-3399, cityfoodstudio.com