Several years ago Kate Djupe tweeted that she wanted to experiment with Thomas Keller’s buttermilk fried chicken recipe, but bemoaned the fact that her family did not eat meat. Responses were quick and numerous: people encouraged her to attempt the method and weren’t shy in volunteering themselves as guinea pigs to sample the results. A spontaneous potluck was organized and Kate’s version of Keller’s fried chicken was the featured course. The congregation of eager test subjects was the beginning of what would become the CMH Dinner Club—an informal collective of Columbus folks who liked to cook, eat, and share food with like-minded food enthusiasts. Kate’s networking verve and appreciation of good food transformed a simple tweet into a vibrant, participatory group of food lovers.
This infectious passion for food and community has been both the inspiration and motivation for Kate’s current project, The Commissary. For years, it has been her vision to open a professional-grade, fully licensed kitchen for individuals to rent and connect with other food professionals. The Commissary is more than just the culmination of Kate’s dream; it’s an opportunity for small businesses throughout the Central Ohio area to realize their own dreams.
This past week I was given the opportunity to tour the future home of The Commissary at 1400 Dublin Road. Kate and business partner Steve Concilla are in the process of converting a warehouse in Marble Cliff into a useable, habitable workspace. Renovations are well underway; drywall has been installed and the floor plan has begun to take shape, including the installation of skylights throughout the space to provide natural light. It was a great opportunity to see the layout at this stage and it gave me a real appreciation and respect for the planning and work that has gone—and continues to be invested—into this project.
The Commissary hopes to become the kitchen incubator and food truck base of choice for local businesses around Columbus. It will feature a large commercial kitchen (including a full arsenal of culinary equipment), a brewery, communal event and dining areas, storage space, outlets and parking spaces for food truck/cart operation, as well as offer support services from legal to accounting assistance. The Commissary is staged to be the hub where food professionals, small businesses, and amateur enthusiasts can connect. It’s the ideal solution for entrepreneurs who don’t possess the overhead or capital for a kitchen/equipment of their own to get a foothold in the food industry.
In the community-minded spirit, Kate and Steve have opened up a portion of their funding through Kickstarter. While the success of The Commissary isn’t dependent on Kickstarter funding, it does offer community backers some pretty unique rewards including:
- brewing sessions with the Actual Brewing Company,
- cooking classes with Dave Scarpetti (webercam), AJ Perry (Sassafras Bakery), Matt Swint (Matija Breads), Helen (Helen’s Asian Kitchen), and Chef Hartmut Handke,
- community dinners prepared by Chef Matt Heaggans (Swoop Food/Bebe), Chef Kevin Caskey (Skillet), and a special appearance by Kenny and Misako of Freshstreet fame.
For more information, be sure to check out The Commissary Kickstarter page.
The Commissary will offer Central Ohio food businesses an invaluable resource to grow and thrive. It will give entrepreneurs the tools and network to cultivate their aspirations into reality, and encourage home food enthusiasts to explore and connect with the Columbus food community.