Not long after The Commissary opened, two chefs sat in a break room area akin to a living room with soft seating, a decorative rug and coffee table. With a wall of cookbooks behind them, they conferred, sharing ideas for an upcoming collaboration dinner.

Not long after The Commissary opened, two chefs sat in a break room area akin to a living room with soft seating, a decorative rug and coffee table. With a wall of cookbooks behind them, they conferred, sharing ideas for an upcoming collaboration dinner.

When Kate Djupe saw this, she nearly cried. "It was one of my more emotional moments," says The Commissary founder, who on the inside was screaming, "It's working!"

The 16,000-square-foot Commissary on Dublin Road in Marble Cliff was designed for meetings such as this, and for the execution of food-related ideas. It's a warehouse-shaped incubator of sorts with a commercial kitchen, storage and event facilities created to cater to those with one-off ideas (like pop-up dinners or cooking classes) to food startups (caterers and food trucks) to existing, cottage-industry businesses that need a place to scale up.

But unlike other incubators strictly for industry folk, Djupe wants The Commissary to be a community gathering place. That's why the space is open to the public with low-commitment offerings like a cookbook and cake pan library, dining events and culinary classes in the 2,000-square-foot kitchen.

Since it opened in November, The Commissary's event calendar has been filled with pop-up dinners and cooking classes hosted by area chefs and bakers. Some visiting pros are chefs searching for a professional home, like former Veritas chefs Silas Caeton and Avishar Barua, who hosted a Midwestern-themed dinner in January. Others are cooks with experience to share, such as Guang Jiao of Helen's Asian Kitchen, who showed students the art of Chinese dumplings, or Matt Swint of Matija Breads, who taught a class on bread making.

If coffee or brews are more your thing, there's also a space designated as the "Lab," where would-be coffee roasters and beer brewers can tinker with equipment or sign up for classes.

"Food is what brings a community together, and if there's some way we can help or give back, then we just wouldn't be living up to our goals if we didn't," says Djupe, adding any food created in The Commissary kitchens can be donated to a charity. "We want to bring anybody, everybody into our kitchens and our space.

"I love Columbus, and I love the food we have here," she continues, "but I am really excited about helping anybody with ideas to make more food and better food."