As you walk into the café of the sparkling-new Forage Kitchen in Uptown Oakland, the mouthwatering menu will likely be your first focus. We can certainly attest that the delectable sandwiches – made from goodies like honey-thyme glazed turkey, or porchetta with fennel-celery leaf relish – are delicious! But there’s more to the story of this new Oakland business than immediately meets the eye. The mission of this start-up is to provide East Bay food entrepreneurs with the tools and support they need for their business to flourish.
A glance past the café counter reveals a light-filled, soaring kitchen space filled with gleaming stainless appliances – the heart of Forage Kitchen. The warm space and state-of-the-art equipment is the fruition of founders Iso Rabins and Matt Johansen’s vision for a co-working kitchen space and community that would provide everything needed to support fledgling food entrepreneurs in starting their business. As Rabins says, “Our goal is for it to be a really welcoming place for people just starting out.”
The dream kitchen offers everything a food entrepreneur or passionate home cook could desire, from top-of-the line kitchen equipment to a dish washing service (no scrubbing pots and pans!). Forage Kitchen also provides the tools that people new to the food world need to build their business, such as bookkeeping assistance, recipe workshops, and access to legal services. Their partner, the Food Craft Institute, offers classes tailored to the needs of Forage Kitchen’s entrepreneurs, and future offerings will include an accelerator program that provides grants for kitchen time and consulting services to help streamline the process of getting a new business off the ground.
Forage Kitchen not only provides practical support for food entrepreneurs, the community aspect also encourages toothsome collaborations. For example, the chance meeting of the founder of Oak and Fig Baking with fellow Forage Kitchen member The Baconer resulted in the creation of a savory caramelized onion, cheddar and bacon hand pie using The Baconer’s smoky bacon (you can order their bacon online). Oak and Fig sells their baked goods at the Forage Kitchen on First Fridays (including today!), so stop by to sample this deliciousness for yourself!
In addition to their First Friday open houses, when you can stop in and purchase some of the tasty items Forage Kitchen’s food entrepreneurs have created, there are other fun events in the works. Once the rainy season ends and our East-Bay summer arrives, Forage Kitchen will begin hosting al fresco movie nights and pop-up dining events. And if you want to take on a large-scale cooking project (cupcakes or jam-making, anyone?), but don’t want the mess and chaos in your own kitchen, you too can join the Forage Kitchen club. They even provide someone to wash your dishes for you! Doesn’t get any better than that.
Written by Samantha Nobles-Block
Original images for 24 East by Lauren Andersen.
For more on Forage Kitchen, go here.
To learn about the Food Craft Institute, go here.
To read about another great innovative Oakland food industry business, go here.