Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chefs, Cooks Take Advantage of Community Kitchen

By John Larson

SOCORRO - Amateur chefs, professional cooks and just about anybody who wants to earn a little money selling prepared food can now take advantage of the Socorro Community Kitchen, an approved commercial kitchen in the Finley Gym building.
The kitchen opened last month with the help of a $33,000 USDA Rural Development Rural Business Enterprise Grant. State Director Terry Brunner toured the facility last Friday, July 23.
“Most of the money was used to purchase and install an exhaust hood and automatic fire suppression system for the range,” Brunner said. “It also allowed for the purchase of tables, a refrigerator, range oven and a dough mixer.”
Two local businesses are already using the facility, which is in the same room as “the woodworking classroom of Mr. Hollinger and Robert Griego” when it was Socorro High School.
Al and Jane Smoake of A&J Family Farms already use the kitchen to create their jams and jellies which are sold at the Farmer’s Market.
Baker John Morrison has been baking his breads for selling at the Farmer’s Market.
Caterer Julie Green of Green’s Kitchen plans to make heavy use of the commercial kitchen for catering jobs.
“When I first heard of it I said ‘I can’t wait to be a part of it,” Green said. “This will be a another step toward getting our business going.”
Chamber of Commerce Director Terry Tadano foresees several formerly home-based food businesses taking advantage of the kitchen.
“We’re having a meeting in the next week or so to iron out basic rules for using the kitchen,”
Tadano said. “Our goal is to make [the rules] easier for the community to use the kitchen.
“This will be a boon for smaller Mom and Pop businesses.”
In addition, a group of 4-H kids has been using the kitchen this week for the Stitch And Spoon program organized by Theresa Dean of the County Extension Office.
Dean said the 15 4-H’ers are learning the basics of both cooking and sewing.
“They’re learning about the proper handling of food, safety in the kitchen, and baking techniques and tricks. They also are repsonsible for making their lunch,” Dean said. “On the sewing end of it, they are learning the parts of a sewing machine and basic practices of sewing. They’ll be making their own tote bag.”

Pictures: (top) Pictured (not in order): Nadya Romero, Madeline Stuteville, Teghan Gonzales, Samantha Maldonado, and Marinarae Rosales.

(bottom) Rosie Tripp helps budding seamstresses McKenna Gonzales (left) and Emily Stuteville on using a sewing machine to make a totebag.

Photos by John Larson

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