Melissa Hemphill would like to see the food entrepreneurs of Revelstoke have a place to create and offer their skill set to benefit the community, and with a new incubator kitchen it will be possible.
There is a clear gap in the value-added products that are available in our community, according to a Community Futures Revelstoke Feasibility Study for the project. By providing a kitchen for entrepreneurs to create, this gap can be filled with benefits for both companies, citizens and the environment.
“The incubator kitchen has endless possibilities such as: food literacy workshops, kids cooking classes, the chance to learn from diverse cultures, Indigenous food workshops, school lunch and breakfast programs and the opportunity to create foods that are sustainable and nutritious,” said Hemphill.
The project will provide safer, higher quality food for citizens and greater community awareness for food security issues.
The incubator kitchen will offer economic diversification, and will create new jobs. The focus is on equitable and inclusive programming that will ensure that every kitchen user is treated with the same approach.
Along with supplying a space for entrepreneurs, Community Connections will be using the kitchen to make ready-to-eat meals for food bank clients using food from the Food Recovery program that might otherwise go to waste.
They tested this program during the pandemic by supplying 10,000 meals prepared by professional chefs. Hemphill said it was a huge hit and they were able to make meals that cost only $1-2 per portion.
Community Connections is also working closely with Start Up Revelstoke to bring people from an entrepreneurial idea to execution.
“Think about the products that we could be creating in this community with a sense of pride that tourists will love,” said Hemphill.
The revenue from incubator kitchen rentals will be put back into future Community Connections’ programs.
The space was designed by a professional kitchen designer and will incorporate two kitchens (prep and hotlines), a shared dish pit and cold storage. It will be available 24/7, and renters will be given a way to enter autonomously. Community Connections will be using part of the space from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
The estimated cost to renovate is just over $1 million. The kitchen is being funded by anonymous donors, the Columbia Basin Trust, a grant from the Federal Government, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, the city and several local businesses.
It will be located in Community Connections’ Outreach Centre building at 416 2nd street west.
The project started back in 2014 with a recommendation in the Revelstoke Food Security Strategy. The Community Futures’ Feasibility study found that there was enough need for the space, and the idea was put into action.
Other commercial kitchens do not have ideal hours, this eliminates the ability to create fresh products, Hemphill said. Storage is also not available in the other commercial kitchens and challenges such as permits and access to equipment arise when using kitchens in restaurants.
Hemphill hopes to see the kitchen open in March 2022. She said Community Connections will be hiring a kitchen manager to oversee the space.
Mimi Kramer is a work experience student working with the Revelstoke Review.