Union Kitchen – blending the best of food and enterprise

Co-Founder of Union Kitchen, Jonas Singer, was in Waterford to provide an informative insight into “Food Businesses Collaborating for Success.”  The event which was hosted in Waterford’s Medieval Museum brought together some of the regions best food producers. 

The ‘kitchen incubator’ concept, which Union Kitchen in Washington DC fosters, allows small businesses to share resources, kitchen space, ideas and inspiration.  It also gives would-be food entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn about all aspects of the food business; everything from licensing and regulations to marketing and customer service.

George Boyle of Fumbally Exchange, a not for profit movement of creative and innovative professionals sharing work spaces, also spoke of the benefits of a work collective, which ultimately cultivates an atmosphere for creative and regenerative growth.
Dermot Walsh of M&D Bakery, along with three other bakeries, joined forces and were successful in getting Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) for the Waterford Blaa in 2013.  Dermot recalled how his experience of “working together can achieve far more than working alone.”
The event was brought to Waterford by the US Embassy and GIY Ireland, with assistance from Waterford City Enterprise Board.
Michael Kelly, founder of GIY Ireland was delighted that such visionaries were in Waterford to share their ideas and experiences.  Michael said “Jonas Singer has created a food movement that takes a lot of uncertainty out of setting up a food business.  All of the businesses at Union Kitchen avail of an abundance of resources, support and common sense that prepares them for the challenges of the food industry.”
Union Kitchen opened its doors in Washington DC in 2012 with the aim of giving food entrepreneurs a collaborative space to leverage the power of working as a group.  Today, the 7,300 sq. ft warehouse is home to over 50 small food businesses ranging from caters and bakers to food trucks and charcuterie makers.
Michael added, “Union Kitchen and Fumbally Exchange have both successfully consolidated a myriad of skill sets, knowledge, professions and infrastructure to help grow the businesses within the collective. It’s a wonderful concept and if realised here can only encourage many entrepreneurs to focus on the food industry and put Ireland firmly at the centre of the global epicurean spotlight.”
Ciaran Cullen, CEO (Acting) Waterford City Enterprise Board, added “These three speakers bring a wealth of experience, vibrancy and energy.  Collectives work and they have proven it, because they diminish costs, they harness a creative and ardent working atmosphere and each member of the collective benefits from the skills and knowledge of others within the group.”
“Here in Waterford we have invested heavily in funding local food producers in the past and will continue to do so.  In fact, one of our most successful projects, the Enterprising Food Network, was founded almost three years ago with the objective of assisting food producers in the areas of branding and packaging, distribution and networking.  The group, made up of restaurants, food producers and horticultural groups, now has 43 members and continues to grow.”
For further details on “Food Businesses collaborating for success”, visit www.unionkitchendc.com, Waterford City Enterprise Boards’ Enterprising Food Network at www.waterfordceb.comor GIY at www.giyinternational.org.