Last Sunday, March 30, Slow Food DC joined former Board Chair Kathryn Warnes of Taste of Place for a tour and demo of the behind-the-scenes activity at Union Kitchen food incubator. Located in a 7,300 square foot warehouse in NE DC, Union Kitchen offers a space for over 50 small local food businesses to grow and thrive while limiting startup costs by providing shared space, equipment, amenities, and administrative services. General Manager Mike Darman welcomed our group in to the building on a cold, rainy day, inviting us to enjoy the warmth and good smells of active cooks in the kitchen! In the communal meeting area, Mike gave us a thorough introduction to the incubator, answering all of our questions about the application and vetting process and telling us all about the many supportive programs that they offer to their members – benefits of being part of a sharing community of food entrepreneurs. He then led us on a tour of the warehouse where we could smell kombucha fermenting, watch chickpeas being roasted in garlic and rosemary, listen to the whir of mixers whipping up cupcake batter, see juice pulp being squeeze, and bask in the damp mustiness of a hand-made sausage curing closet.
From there were met up with Chris Johnson and James Brosch, owners of Cured DC, and their assistant Nick for an in depth one-on-one demonstration of how they make their Toscana sausage. They walked us through the whole process from selecting the best cut of meat, then cutting, prepping, and grinding it to adding the right amount of fat, spices, and wine, encasing the mixture and preparing it to be cured slowly for many months before being ready to slice, eat and simply enjoy. Which is what we did to round out our afternoon – slicing thin samples of spicy boar sausage and herbaceous pork Toscana.
We left eager to come back soon – perhaps a taste of Union Kitchen later this year with a sampling from each of our favorite Made in DC foods!
Post contributed by SFDC board co-chair, Sarah McKinley