Located in New Covent Garden Market, the 16,000 sq ft site will serve as the capital’s first ‘light kitchen’ – designed in contrast to the rising number of ‘dark kitchens’ - built to address the challenges faced by growing food businesses from across the industry, and help entrepreneurs in the food sector rebuild after the most challenging 18 months in living memory. It will offer food entrepreneurs flexible access to commercial kitchens and co-working space, acting as a supportive new platform where Londoners can come to cook, work, learn and grow together.
Inspired by co-working projects in other industries, Mission Kitchen will bring a curated selection of food entrepreneurs together under one roof to share facilities and support. Its members will benefit from flexible and affordable access to state-of-the-art commercial kitchens, business mentoring and training opportunities, and a collaborative community of food professionals all on the path to growing successful, consciously-run businesses.
Following a rigorous three-month application process, Mission Kitchen’s 30 Founding Members have been selected to reflect and strengthen the diversity of backgrounds in the food industry, as well as supporting new businesses with a social and environmental commitment to sustainability. They include Mama Leys, a non-profit initiative set up to develop healthy, culturally relevant meals for low-income families in South London; PEP Kitchen, healthy plant-based ready meals, sustainably packaged and delivered direct to your door; nibs etc., a sustainable snack brand, upcycling by-products and fighting food waste; and Moi Moi Sauce, a sustainable, vibrant craft hot sauce start-up, infusing flavours from Asia and the Caribbean.
Representing the rising food brands and businesses of tomorrow, the cohort comprises packaged product brands, artisan producers, caterers, street food traders, bakers and the new wave of direct-to-consumer food concepts. More than half of the Founding Members started their businesses in lockdown last year including Juicy Brick, a new innovation agency working with food and drinks brands on creative projects and product ideation, and Syrian refugee chef Mohammad Abu Zard who is one of the chefs at charity Migrateful. After training with another charity called Tern to develop his business idea, he will be using the space to launch Momo’s Dairy,a brand new Syrian cheese business.
Mission Kitchen will also welcome more established businesses looking to scale up and develop new products. Innovative meat-free brandBetter Nature specialises in tempeh-based products and is currently stocked in Mindful Chef, Jiffy and The Vegan Kind Supermarket, with ambitious plans for 2021, and will join cult food content producers MOB Kitchen whose MOB Truckteam will be using the kitchen to prep before hitting the road for a busy summer of events and consumer pop-ups.
Charlie Gent, Co-founder Mission Kitchen, comments: “We received over 200 membership applications, many of which came from new concepts launched in lockdown last year. That’s testament to the ingenuity and determination of entrepreneurs in the food industry. But now these ideas need space and support to grow, and it’s really hard for small businesses to find either in London. Mission Kitchen aims to change this for good, reducing the barriers to entry and making building a food business cheaper, simpler and more fun.”
Members have the choice of part-time or full-time membership plans, in shared kitchens or private units. The options have been designed to offer full flexibility for businesses to grow from concept to scale-up. The high spec kitchens are filled with brand new professional-grade equipment. The site is based on the 1st floor with floor-to-ceiling windows flooding the space with natural light and views of the city, there are two large outdoor terraces, lounge and co-working areas, plants, dining areas and event spaces – a stark contrast to the recent trend of ‘dark kitchens’ that have spread across the city. A separate development kitchen has been designed for cookery classes, experimentation and product development as well as use as a studio kitchen for photography and content production. The development kitchen is open for public bookings with members receiving discounted rates.
Chris Lumsden, Co-founder Mission Kitchen, comments: “To build a food business might sound fun, but it’s incredibly tough, even for the most talented and ambitious founders. After all the challenges that food professionals have faced over the last year, we want to offer founders the affordability and flexibility they need to get back on track.”
Mission Kitchen is launching with a carefully-curated Membership Programme designed to foster community and help its members accelerate their business growth. Planned events includes business training and workshops, one-on-one mentorship from established culinary entrepreneurs and rotational member-led supper clubs. In addition, peer-to-peer cookery classes will allow members to share food cultures and exchange techniques and recipes. A range of cultural events including Food for Thought talks and panel discussions, and regular Member Socials will be hosted in Mission Kitchen’s co-working space, dining area or on one of the two outdoor terraces.
Arron Maddix, Founder of Moi Moi Sauce and one of the Founding Members, says: “As a start-up brand, a collaborative workspace like Mission Kitchen gives us the ability to connect with other other food entrepreneurs and founders to get feedback and share ideas. We plan to use the opportunity to test and develop new products for Moi Moi Sauce, and also develop dishes and menus for our restaurant due to open next year. Hopefully, this will be a major springboard for whatever comes next for Moi Moi Sauce and I already feel like this is going to be a special place for everyone involved.”
Mission Kitchen is working in partnership with Covent Garden Market Authority (CGMA) as part of the ongoing transformation of the market into a hub of food enterprise in Central London. The project has received funding from the Mayor of London’s £70m regeneration programme, the Good Growth Fund, which is supported by the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP).