Rabins, the brainchild behind Forage SF, The Underground Market, and The Wild Kitchen, had just raised the requisite $150,000 to fund his most recent venture, Forage Kitchen.
For those not familiar with any of the buzzwords above, you can check out the Forage Kitchen website. For those of you too lazy to even go that far, here’s the gist:
- A shared kitchen and shared office space, equipment rental, and business support center that will enable small, artisan producers to build their businesses from the ground up
- All of the above, but for a home cook to jar those preserves he/she has been dying to make with abundant fruit in the yard, can the veggies growing in the garden, create gigantic dishes for that Chanukkah feast he/she been meaning to throw.
- Classes, tips and tricks of the trade from those who have been through it all, and best of all, no red tape through which to cut in regard to permitting and licensing
While Rabins was undoubtedly the driving force behind the project, it was by no means a solo effort – to the tune of 1,605 backers on Kickstarter, countless promotional tweets, and the brave Bay Area chefs who auctioned themselves off at The Underground Market celebration.
The decision of the various pop-ups and pseudo-professionals to donate to this cause is obvious: they want a home. They want a place where they can not only hone their craft, but also share it with the entire community without taking on the burden of start-up costs associated with small batch projects. They want a shelter that will offer them advice, support, and opportunity.
Yet it is evident that these are not the only people who made this endeavor a success. Home cooks and everyday, normal people contributed as well. Why? Well, I can only surmise, but here’s my theory: people want to cook. We enjoy feeding others, but are often times too overwhelmed with the demands of our work, family, and social lives that the art of food gets shoved to the back burner.
How many recipes have you clipped, pinned, bookmarked, and never touched again because you didn’t have the materials? The time? The space? I can think of dozens of challenges I let pass by because I was unwilling to invest in a piece of baking equipment I knew I would only use once and then stow in the back of my cupboard, or was too intimidated by a particular method and didn’t want to waste my time, money or energy on the very high probability I would screw up.
Back in “the day,” going out to eat was far and away the exception, saved for special occasions and random acts of romance. Now, it has become so commonplace to let others cook for us that many have lost an essential life skill. Why spend the time and effort to buy ingredients and materials when we can simply walk down the block and have a delicious meal there?
By no means am I saying that we should boycott restaurants and only make meals at home.
Seriously, I would have no website.
But I am saying that Forage Kitchen will give us the opportunity to expand our horizons, step out of our culinary comfort zones (or lack thereof), and feel empowered to take that leap of faith – whether you want to follow that dream you’ve always had to market and sell your grandmother’s super secret recipe, or to finally host that elaborate murder mystery dinner party you’ve been planning since college.
This venture says a tremendous amount about the values that San Franciscans (and those who contributed from afar) hold. Sure, we’re all foodies and will consistently wait in lines for brunch and pony up the dough for virtually anything “artisanal.” But something about this particular movement made me stop and look a little bit harder.
It means that we support a culture of entrepreneurship, and despite the “win-at-all-cost” mentality that pervades our society, we are not only willing, but have a desire, to help each other succeed. It says that we want a place to do all of these things but have always been too scared, too intimidated, too inundated with which to follow through.
Sure, we’ll all reap the benefits of the incredible food that will no doubt emanate from the Forage Kitchen by way of the extremely talented Bay Area chefs, but we might also find that we do have the desire to try something out for ourselves. And now we have a place to do it.
The success of Forage Kitchen says that we believe in our community, but more importantly, that we also believe in ourselves.