TRUCKEE, Calif. — From caterers and food trucks to private chefs and bakers, finding a kitchen space to work out of can be the difference between failure and success for small culinary businesses.
A new company, Kitchen Collab, recently opened in Truckee and provides everything a small culinary operation would need via its commercial commissary kitchen, helping pave the way for a new generation of chefs and cooks, and startup businesses
“There’s a level of expectations for local clients that is continuously going up, and there’s been a generational transition in the chefs in the area in the last 10 years,” said Kitchen Collab Director Alex Tolger.
“I would love to see Truckee-North Tahoe on the map as a food culture space. We have amazing products in such close proximity. We have phenomenal produce coming from Nevada City, Lincoln Hills area, Colfax, and we have great proteins coming in from Sierraville and that whole valley.”
The company opened last May in the Crossroads Shopping Center, and offers monthly memberships for use of its fully equipped commercial kitchen, which includes 12 prep spaces, tilt skillets, steam kettles, pizza ovens, steam injection baking ovens, an in-house grill, mixers, ice cream machines and just about anything else one might need.
“All the toys most any chef or cook would want to play with,” said Tolger. “All companies have to bring here is the product they want to work with and the knives that they are going to use.”
BUSINESS BY DEMAND
Tolger moved to the area from Portland in 2010 and after years of working in the food industry decided he wanted to purchase his own food truck.
“After a few years of working for other people, I knew I wanted to work for myself and I was looking to start a food truck,” said Tolger. “And looking around there was no way to get a food truck going in this area without either working out of someone else’s kitchen or seeing something like this start.”
Tolger said options for caterers, private chefs, and food trucks in the area were limited to a few local food businesses that rented out their space when not in use, and that there was no dedicated commercial space available in the area.
“The main point is to really reduce the overall financial burden of small culinary businesses and their startup costs,” he said. “What we’ve done is we’ve created a large kitchen so that they can operate directly out of us, under our permitting, and our health department systems, so they don’t have to go into signing their own lease purchasing their own equipment, dealing with the planning department and the process of building out a space.”
Members of Kitchen Collab schedule times to come in to prep for events or business, and can make use of refrigerated storage, access to wholesale pricing through the company’s purveyors, and also use of a covered loading and wash bay, a private dining area and overnight food truck parking. The company is open 24 hours a day, and offers pricing starting at $40 per hour down to $28 per hour depending on time of day and level of membership. Aside from use of its commercial kitchen space, Kitchen Collab also has employees on hand to make sure health requirements are met and to do a secondary cleanup after members are finished.
“That way we have a little bit of a check and a balance for the way the kitchen is set up,” said Tolger “They also monitor product that comes through the kitchen and monitor storage.”
GROWING CULINARY CULTURE
The company currently has three businesses operating out of it, including EATS Cooking Company, Hey Chef!, and Tolger’s company MOGROG Rotisserie.
“We want to push toward 10 to 15 members going into winter’s season,” Tolger said. “Those aren’t full-time members, ideally they’re 40-hour a month and higher members, but if we can have 15, 10-hour members a month too, that would be great.”
Through Kitchen Collab, Tolger said he hopes to see the food truck scene in Truckee and Tahoe grow, bringing in more chefs and cooks, and different culinary choices. The trucks, according to Tolger, were a large part of the growth in culinary culture he saw before leaving Portland roughly a decade ago.
“We are working on trying to grow a stronger food truck scene specific to here in Truckee, and then from here launching it on to the lake,” he said.
“Coming from the northwest and seeing the food explosion up there, part of that explosion came from the food truck industry itself.”
Kitchen Collab will offer the first of a series of pop-up dinners on Aug. 25, allowing for locals and prospective members a chance to see what the company has to offer.
For more information visit KitchenCollab.co.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at email@example.com.
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