5 US FOOD INCUBATORS TO INSPIRE LONDON
Despite the glazed looks we get when we say the words “kitchen incubator” in London, we’re excited by news we keep getting from America, where barely a day goes by without we hearing about the work of another culinary incubator, each with its own original take on the model.
We’re studying all these models and more in adapting the kitchen incubator model for London. One of the things we’re wrestling with is – how much needs to adapt from models working successfully in the US? How is London different – our food culture, our entrepreneurship scene, our lives and commitments? What would work here? And what wouldn’t? Here’s a round-up of some of our favourite US food incubators that are inspiring us:
1. La Cocina
La Cocina in San Fransisco, puts a social mission squarely at its heart, focusing on mentoring low-income and immigrant women entrepreneurs to jump start and grow their food businesses, through its beautiful shared used kitchen in the Mission District. Some of their alumni stories are here on HuffPo.
Hot Bread Kitchen in New York, is similarly socially-driven but uses a different model to La Cocina, focusing on bread. Its an interesting 3 part model: (1) a bakery, to teach immigrant women; (2) an incubator, to help small food businesses, and (3) the new Almacen, the retail store which will essentially serve as the face of the program.
Read more on the NY Daily News.
3. The Forage
Another San Fransiscan venture, this time one that raised money through kickstarter.com and is kind of a co-working space for food and community entrepreneurs. It doesn’t exclusively focus on disadvantaged entrepreneurs, but small-scale businesses and sustainability are big themes. There’s more on this Grub Street blogpost.
4. Local Food Lab
The most tech-incubator-like of those we’ve found, Local Food Lab is in the Silicon Valley (where else?) a kind of Y-Combinator for food startups, with an interesting focus on farming and systems around local supplying. “We want to tie in technology, design, and the lean startup model,” explains Krysia Zajonc, Local Food Lab’s cofounder, in this piece in Fast Company.
5. The Durham Cookery
The Durham Cookery, (whose website and design we really like) operates a membership model, and in addition to its other services, is planning on using its beautiful new space for pop-up restaurants, specialty food shows, Culinary Workshops and private dinners. More on the model here.