Mid-Continent Public Library opened the doors to its much-anticipated Culinary Center — with public-facing food and nutrition-focused classes beginning in June, as well as commercial kitchen access for emerging food entrepreneurs.
“We are thrilled to finally welcome the community into our space and can’t wait to get cooking!” said Xander Winkel, director for MCPL’s Culinary Center. “The mission of the Culinary Center is to enrich the community through food education and to support small businesses, and after many months of gathering all the right ingredients, we’re ready to start serving up these services!”
Winkel, who has a background in nonprofit management and small business development, is joined by Taylor Smith, kitchen manager, a registered dietitian whose expertise includes federal food regulations and one-on-one dietary counseling, and Charles Tibbs, program manager, a former executive chef with experience managing a range of food operations, from small startups to stadiums with more than 100 kitchen staff.
Classes at the Culinary Center — within MCPL’s Green Hills location at 8581 N. Green Hills Rd. — range in topics and cater to foodies of all ages, he said. All programs are free to attend, but registration is required.
Click here to learn more about class offerings.
The other half of the Culinary Center’s service — commercial kitchen space for local startup food businesses — is also now available.
For a minimal rental fee, businesses can use the four commercial kitchen spaces, including two incubator kitchens, a shared equipment kitchen, and a prep kitchen. Each comes equipped with a variety of features — range tops, convection ovens, conventional ovens, freezers, coolers, etc. Scholarships to cover kitchen rental fees are also available to those who qualify.
“Our commercial kitchen spaces are an ideal resource for any food business without a current brick-and-mortar presence,” said Winkel, who previously served as executive director of the Ennovation Center in Independence. “For folks who have a catering or food truck business, the Library’s Culinary Center can serve as your home base. It’s also great for those who have a home cottage food operation now and who want to grow into a commercial food business. The goal is to provide the space and tools that are often a barrier to entry for many aspiring ‘foodpreneurs.’”
The MCPL Culinary Center is a unique resource for the Kansas City Northland, which was part of the inspiration for the facility, officials said.
“One of the goals for this project has been to fill a community need that Library leaders recognized a number of years ago,” said Erin Kennedy, strategic projects manager for MCPL. “The Kansas City metro has a few resources for food education and local food business support, but many are costly, and few are located north of the river. The Library’s mission is to enrich its citizens and communities by expanding access to innovation and information, and the Culinary Center is one more way we achieve this.”