Chattanooga has a Kitchen of its Own

Look out! A new fully equipped, licensed and permitted commercial kitchen facility is being introduced to the Chattanooga community. Designed to provide local food entrepreneurs, food trucks and local farms access to a low-cost, 24- hour facility where they can safely and legally manufacture value-added food products, this cutting-edge, shared kitchen provides new opportunities and fills a gap.

Located at the First Tennessee Pavilion, and operated by Public Markets, Chattanooga Kitchen, provides an affordable option for bakers, food producers and caterers, and a commissary to the growing number of producers in our community. The community based kitchen is comprised of high quality common-use cooking areas, refrigeration, dry storage areas, along with a full range of commercial kitchen equipment. Members have access to hourly rental of the facility and the equipment. In addition to use by local food businesses, the Chattanooga Kitchen will also be available to local organizations and food producers who are interested in hosting workshops and cooking classes. The facility is available to rent for single or shared use.

A brainchild of Paul Smith, Executive Director of the Finley Stadium Complex, Chattanooga Kitchen could not have been created without the help of Chris Thomas, Executive Director of Public Markets, Inc. says Smith. The idea of a commercial kitchen has been in the making for the past few years. The only thing holding them back was where to put the facility. Smith and Thomas looked at a few places downtown, but put the idea on hold. In December 2013, Smith took over Finely Stadium as manager and shortly after in late 2014, a catering company located at the First Tennessee Pavilion left, leading to the idea for Chattanooga Kitchen to be brought back to light. Funded initially by Benwood Foundation, the Chattanooga Kitchen opened its doors in August.

“We wanted to create something that would last,” says Smith. “We’re hoping that Chattanooga Kitchen will bring out those intelligent, talented people in the community who want to make their dreams come true by following an idea and seeing if they can create their own business. Chattanooga Kitchen is here to help them.”

Smith’s goal for the kitchen space is for it to become a major role in the community for entrepreneurs and to introduce a new audience to the Finley campus. “We have our Mocs football fans, our CFC soccer fans, and our Chattanooga Market visitors but this is a great opportunity to bring in a new crowd that will bring everyone together with the common interest of food,” says Smith.

Katie Pagnani, Public Markets’s Special Project Manager, is excited to take on this notable task. “We are excited to introduce the Chattanooga Kitchen because of our commitment to providing small businesses and entrepreneurs a low-cost environment to start, grow, and expand their businesses,” says Pagnani. “Both the Chattanooga Market and the Chattanooga Workspace have been successful ventures, and we are looking forward to expanding our offerings to include a location and assistance specific to local food entrepreneurs.”

Lannie Harte who makes a line of jams, jellies, marinara sauce and a fresh line of salsa plans to use the kitchen to teach a class twice a month. “My heart and soul is connected with this forward thinking concept,” says Harte. “I wanted to be one of the first in the kitchen to support local and fresh products.”

Another Chattanooga Kitchen member is Jeff Sweeney, owner of Sweeney Sweets. He recently moved to Chattanooga from Montgomery, Alabama and is excited to continue his 30-year experience with candy making.

“It’s amazing that so soon after relocating to the area, I am able to take advantage of this resource that Chattanooga has to offer me,” says Sweeney. “I inherited the love of candy making from my mother, and grandmother, and I can share my talents through the utilization of a space where I can cook and possibly do shows commercially.”

Chattanooga Kitchen includes the following equipment:

  • Two Convection Ovens
  • Two Convection Steamers
  • Southbend 36” Radiant Broiler
  • 6 Burner Gas Range with Conventional Oven
  • Two Pitco Fryers with removable tank covers
  • Star Ultra-Max 24” Radiant Gas Char-Broiler
  • Star Ultra-Max 36” Griddle
  • Mounted Pot Rack
  • Single-Door Reach in Freezer
  • Continental Double Door Reach-In Refrigerator
  • Vulcan Heating/Proofing Cabinet
  • Two, Three Compartment Sinks
  • One Produce Sink
  • Three Stainless Steel Worktables

Potential members can fill out an application on the Chattanooga Kitchen website, http://Chattanooga.Kitchen

This story was originally published by Chattanooga Magazine.

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