Photo by Dawn Youngsteadt

Kickstart the Ovens

The first time I visited The Commissary on Dublin Road, I walked in through an open fence and tiptoed around piles of blasted concrete and leaning towers of drywall. The second time I visited, I went in through the doorway, painted a warm yellow, and entered a haven for food lovers—eaters, makers, dreamers, and everyone in between. Funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign to the tune of $47,770, the culinary playground already had the support of Columbus fans.

On November 16, The Commissary held a block party to introduce the finished space to the community. Prior to the party, Kickstarter supporters and a few lucky eaters enjoyed a special Korean-Mexican meal prepared by Ajumama’s Laura Lee.  With the bigger crowd, Commissary founder Kate Morrisey Djupe was a social butterfly, accepting kudos, hugs, and a written-on-the-spot song from Earwig’s Lizard McGee.

Eye-catching design elements include the yolk-toned hallway where rows of wooden spoons hang, each etched with the name of a Kickstarter supporter, or an awesome food catchphrase, or words of delight. The hall of spoons leads to a common area with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves just ready to be filled with cookbooks and a collection of cake tins—there is already a gorgeous assortment underway. There are plush chairs and a couch to sit and find inspiration in the words of others, complete with a good luck broccoli plushie. A row of dishwashers sat silently, waiting for their first loads.

In addition to all the cooking equipment, Djupe gathered up a bouquet of artists to paint murals on other walls—Justin Winslow’s psychedelic row of ketchup, a bountiful Commissary celebration by Sarah Hout, Alex Conrad’s tangle of sunflowers, and bits and bobs of poetry by Amy Turn Sharp and Rob W. Jones. There was even a geometric, Frank Lloyd Wright-esque section of the wall for visitors to fill in with handy paints ready to go. Conference rooms had glass windows etched with words like “create” and “gather.”

Earwig kicked out the jams, Amy Turn Sharp pounded out poetry on an old typewriter, Igloo Press’s Allison Chapman stamped out lovely coasters. Outfit Good had a pop-up printing cart makin’ T-shirts. Proceeds from a portion of sales went to various charities, including the Mid-Ohio Food Bank. That Djupe included local artisans, and not just of the epicurean variety, showed off the abundance of creativity here in our community.

And of course there was food and drink—trucks, cocktails, nibblies galore—as well as tours of the facility. Literally in the heart of the building, a large room for food creation with rows of shiny standmixers, meat slicers, prep tables, pots and pans was the stage for the third installment of the Columbus Knife Fight throw down. The crowd gathered to watch Matt White of the Columbus Brewing Company and Chef Lara Yazvac Pipia of Two-Top Consulting (and a contributor to Stock & Barrel) battle in the new kitchen. In the end, after fish had been gutted and squash chopped, White took home the knife with a one-point victory.

While Djupe was exhausted and exhilarated, she was mostly thankful for all the support and generosity from the community. When asked if she was going to spend the next day sleeping, she said, “No, I’m going to work on getting more clients.” That’s the Columbus entrepreneurial spirit we know and love. 

For more on The Commissary (1400 Dublin Rd.), check out thecommissarycolumbus.com.

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