Bridging the Opportunity Divide

Things Are Heating Up in This Los Angeles Kitchen

December 18, 2014
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Things Are Heating Up in This Los Angeles Kitchen
An innovative co-working space for cooks will soon open in Los Angeles. Alex Wong/Getty Images
Fifty work spaces are available to chef-preneurs.

You’re heard the warning about having too many cooks in the kitchen. But for Mott Smith, it’s a warning that might be better unheeded.

As the developer of the new L.A. Prep, Smith has designed a space for co-worker cooks. Opening next month, this 56,000-square-foot former warehouse has been transformed into 50 fully licensed, professional kitchens — complete with a chef in each one, according to Next City.

The L.A. County Department of Public Health mandates that all food producers (except those on the smallest scale) utilize restaurant-style kitchens to meet strict health codes. Businesses run into problems, however, when they want to expand. Normally, they have two options: (1) expanding to a larger kitchen that can cost thousands of dollars or (2) become a “gray market” operator and use restaurant space at night.

That is, until L.A. Prep popped onto the scene. The place will give cooks access to upscale kitchens without the crazy overhead normally associated with it. Chefs can bring in their ingredients on day one and walk out with goods ready for sale.

Leah Ferrazzani is one of the first tenants scheduled to move into the space. Her company Semolina Artisanal Pasta previously ran out of her home’s kitchen. Limited by space and time, Ferrazzani is optimistic about her move to L.A. Prep, as she estimates that it will double her production from 45 to 90 pounds per day.

L.A. Prep will be the first of its kind, occupying the middle ground between cottage production (at-home production that is sold directly to consumers) and large-scale industrial food markets. While it took some finagling with the Health Department, Smith was able to get approval.

Right now the health department is starting to see that there are a lot of ways that they can still keep people safe but also be more open-minded about the way they regulate things,” Ferrazzani tells Next City.

For Smith, L.A. Prep represents the opportunity to expand innovation.

“I’m passionate about experimentation and innovation in cities,” Smith says. “Everything I’ve done is about opening up the marketplace at the entry level…making it easier for small businesses to do their thing, innovate and realize that awesomeness that is implicit in L.A.”

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