MILWAUKEE — The restaurant industry is difficult. Luckily, there is a place in Milwaukee making it a little easier aspiring chefs.
"MKE kitchen is a shared kitchen. It was built with the knowledge that other people were looking for kitchen space that was affordable and that it could operate with 1, 2, 3, 4 tenants at a time," Kathy Papineau, owner of MKE Kitchen said.
For the past eight years, Papineau has opened her doors to entrepreneurs looking for a place to practice their culinary craft. Currently, Papineau said she has around 16 tenants. Not all of them will be there at once, though.
It's an affordable space for new chefs that lets them produce larger quantities of food than they would at their home kitchen. Plus, no two chefs are similar. TMJ4 News wasn't able to talk to all 16 people, but we were able to meet three of them.
"It is a mix of corn rice cereal pretzels and jumbo pecans, and I put an irresistible coating on top of it," chef and creator Jacqulyn Tucker said.
Tucker just recently got into the commercial cooking business. She started by making a snack for her son and his friends. They loved it so much and so did her friends, she finally began turn her at-home recipe into a business.
"This year I stepped out and decided to make it a licensed product," she said.
"Gumbo Valley is a southern creation that is brought to the Midwest. It is a traditional Louisiana dish," owner and creator Andre Richards said.
He is bringing some southern heat to Wisconsin with his delicious food.
Like Tucker, he recently began his professional culinary career, but he has been cooking for 15 years.
"Gumbo Valley truly has a taste that is unbeatable and a flavor you won’t forget," he said.
He says this new space allows him to connect with other entrepreneurs and work together. He said the new space has been incredibly helpful.
Cassie's Natural Living
"I make and sell elderberry syrup and other elderberry products," Cassie Johnson, owner of Cassie's Natural Living said.
Elderberry's are a health food.
"Elderberrys are high in vitamin C. They have natural anti oxidants. They are an natural anti inflammatory. They’re amazing for you. High in fiber."
Johnson has been selling her elderberry products like syrups and lollipops in stores for the past year. In fact, she has over 30 retail locations across Wisconsin. However, like Tucker, she started by just making elderberry foods for her family.
"My business really boomed last year, but I started making it for my own family. That’s how this started about three years ago, and then I was giving it to friends and family and then it just kept going from there."
What makes MKE Kitchen so unique is that everyone brings something unique to the table that makes for an unparalleled culinary incubator experience. Many of the chefs here are in the same place business wise which makes for a good entrepreneurial space.