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La Grange business helps chefs cook up success

Published: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 12:08 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com)
Carrie Hogan (from left) of La Grange, Jennifer Brace of Lockport, and Elizabeth Turiello of Crestwood, roll pie dough, chop salsa ingredients and mix frosting respectively in United Kitchen's rental kitchen in La Grange on Friday.
Caption
(Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com)
After she mixed the pink frosting, Elizabeth Turiello (left) of Crestwood watches her Serendipity Sweet Things partner Andrea Lanzi of Burbank add sprinkles to the latest batch of cupcakes. Independent chefs prepare food in United Kitchen's rental kitchen on Friday.

LA GRANGE – After reopening its doors in January following renovations, United Kitchen is back and stirring up a recipe for success for a group of local business that make everything from cupcakes to tomato sauce.

United Kitchen, located at 26 Calendar Ave., offers the owners of small culinary businesses a space to prepare their products, without the commitment of renting their own kitchen and storefront, at least to start.

“These businesses are able to start small, gain a customer base and develop a plan,” United Kitchen owner Kelly Ford said.

United Kitchen – formerly From Scratch Marketplace – closed last summer to renovate their space so they could accommodate more vendors. There are now three ovens for the chefs and more freezer space, Ford said.

For Andrea Lanzi, co-owner of Serendipity Sweet Things, United Kitchen has provided her the space to build her one-of-a-kind cupcake business.

“[United Kitchen] started everything for us,” Lanzi said. “Without small places like that, our small business wouldn’t [have been] able to get off the ground.”

Since reopening, United Kitchen has already welcomed additional businesses, said Ford, who added vendors using the kitchen range from those just getting started, to established companies.

In addition to providing chefs and bakers with a cooking space, United Kitchen also houses a retail space, which allows the cooks to sell their lines of salsas, desserts, gourmet pretzels, Italian sauces, pies and more.

“It’s not just one or two products; it’s developing more and more into a full market with [items] you can take home for a meal,” said baker Amy McCabe of Pretty Sweet Cookies.

McCabe said that since joining United Kitchen in 2012, she’s gained many customers for her La Grange-based business.

“It takes so much to start up your own business and have a storefront,” McCabe said. “[United Kitchen] is just a perfect fit, and all we have to do is worry about our food.” 

Along with welcoming new chefs, the kitchen has also added on a new online delivery service with Artizone, Ford said. She said the new service has been great for the vendors by allowing customers to have products come directly to their door.

“For a small business owner, we couldn’t ask for anything better,” Lanzi said. “[United Kitchen] really gives you somewhere to start.”

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