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Kickstart It Up

In July potato salad fever swept the city as Zack “Danger” Brown’s tongue-in-cheek Kickstarter project for making the picnic side dish went viral and was funded to the tune of $55,492. Though Kickstarter is littered with copycats (“an even better macaroni salad,” $0.00 pledged), there are plenty of more serious, ambitious local food ventures still active on the crowdfunding platform.

First, the successfully funded: The Commissary – a commercial kitchen and flexible food-centric space for culinary pros to leverage communal resources for their endeavors, which exceeded its Kickstarter goal of $40,000 by the July 10 deadline, raising $47,770. The event space-test kitchen-classroom will feature access to equipment like blast chillers, brewing supplies, sous vide machines, and anti-griddles that aren’t standard fare for most restaurants, and its 16,000 square feet provides plenty of room for lots of different creative uses and projects.

The Commissary will allow entrepreneurs to utilize its resources to start new food-based companies; established eateries can use it for catering needs; and the community can host everything from farmers’ markets to pop-up restaurants to cooking competitions. The Grandview-area business (1400 Dublin Rd.) is scheduled for a fall opening.

Currently funding, The Bite-Sized Book of Bite-Sized Recipes aims big in its attempt to become one of the world’s smallest cookbooks. If funded, the project by Columbus resident and food photographer Catherine Murray will assist the creation of a 1.75-inch by 1.5-inch, 52-page cookbook with 20 kid-friendly, easy-to-make recipes like mini s’mores, tiny bread bowls, and baby manicotti. The book is meant to celebrate the “bite-sized moments” that make up our lives.

The project seeks $8,500 to offset the costs of studio rental, groceries, recipe testing, design work, editing, and prototyping. Each book will include a digital copy and a magnifying glass, for those without hawk-eye vision. The book will be in the funding stage until September 25, and if it exceeds its goal, Murray expects to deliver the miniscule culinary tome at the beginning of December.

ChefVets, a new local nonprofit, recently launched its Kickstarter project called “Cheesecakes with Honor” on September 14. The organization is dedicated to integrating disabled veterans into the workforce by teaching them culinary and food-service skills, and the campaign aims to launch a veteran-made cheesecake business while also reaching for stretch goals to fund improvements to its future headquarters in the former SafeAuto building. Backers can purchase cheesecakes for $45 (including shipping), with discounted pricing for bulk orders up to 10. ChefVets needs to sell 350 cakes to reach its goal of launching the cheesecake business, and stretch goals include upgrades like fitness equipment for disabled vets (1,500 cakes).

The nonprofit officially began operation in May and has already acquired more than $2.5 million in donations. In addition to its instructional kitchen and training facility, the five-acre campus will feature an organic rooftop garden, a research and design kitchen, a fitness center, office space for veteran-owned startups, a medical wing, and a bakeshop, café, and catering hub for wholesale, retail, and mail-order distribution of food products made by veterans. The center will also include resources for helping veterans learn key skills for managing relationships, finances, wellness, and coping.

Finally, the wildly popular Hot Chicken Takeover, which launched a Kickstarter campaign on September 16 to help fund its move to mobile. Proprietor Joe DeLoss has been operating his pop-up restaurant concept from a takeout window in the Near East Side Co-Op, and he’s using the crowdfunding platform to create a “custom kitchen on wheels” to extend his reach. If HCT raises $40,000 – through rewards like private takeovers and pudding for a year – DeLoss and Co. will be able to sling their haute and spicy fried bird to new businesses and communities outside Olde Towne East for the first time.