Editorial By: Allyson Grindstaff, Community Kitchen Manager
My grandmother was a food service manager for the area high school and had a love for cooking. One thing you could always count on when you visited was having a belly full of home cooked food made with a big helping of love. I remember spending the summers at their house growing up and have fond memories of helping her prepare the food. She would make all kinds of casseroles, pies, cookies, and candies to take to picnics or other social gatherings. I also have her love of cooking and particularly enjoy baking cakes, breads, and sweets. I attended Johnson and Wales University in Charleston, South Carolina where I received my Associates degree in Culinary Arts. I also have worked in the restaurant industry for almost 15 years (including Biltmore Estate).
A few years ago I was approached about making cakes, cookies, and other items for a coffee shop. I was excited to say the least and began dreaming big. When I started investigating about making things in my home to sell in the coffee shop I began to see a mountain of rules and regulations before me. It seemed impossible and I didn’t have the money to purchase commercial space to make them at either. This is the same problem most businesses just starting out run into. They have a great product but end up getting so frustrated with trying to navigate through all of the regulations to properly prepare and sell their product that they end up giving up.
I may not have been able to make it “big” showcasing Grandma’s love in the coffee shop but today I get to in a much larger way. As the manager the new Community Kitchen located on Mayland Community College’s Mitchell Campus in Spruce Pine, I am able to help others make their dream a reality.
We rent commercial kitchen space on an hourly basis so that small businesses and individuals have a sanitation-graded facility with the equipment needed to help them cross over that mountain of regulations and rules. The facility can be used to prepare food for retail sale, catering functions, personal use, or other specialized uses. We also offer classes on financial, business development and marketing geared towards small businesses to help them along the way.
The goal of the Community Kitchen is to help stimulate growth within our local economy through small businesses and individuals and assist them in accomplishing their dreams of getting their food product out to the public. The Community Kitchen was made possible through financial support from the NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission and Women for Women, a giving circle of The Community Foundation of Western NC. Local Chambers of Commence also gave support.
My dream of sharing Grandma’s cooking may have come about differently by helping you find the avenue to put your cooking specialty before the public. If you have questions about our Community Kitchen and how I can help you or would like to setup an appointment to meet with me, please contact me at (828) 766-1247.