Tastemaker: Kate Djupe, owner, The Commissary

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Why she's a Tastemaker: The Commissary-commercial kitchen, storage warehouse, event space, small-business incubator and soon-to-be brewery and roastery-defies the format of an elevator pitch. Founder Kate Djupe learned as much as she spent the better part of eight years molding her ambitious dream into a reality. Since opening in November, it has become the kind of sanctuary Djupe wishes she could have called home as a curious culinary school student-a place where foodies can experiment, collaborate and grow.

Long time coming: Djupe grew disenfranchised with culinary school while briefly attending The Culinary Institute of America. She wanted more from her instructors. She longed for greater hands-on experience. Thus the seed for The Commissary was planted. A few years later, this seed grew when Djupe wasn't able to sell her homemade baby food because it wasn't produced in a commercial kitchen. She gained private investors and eventually launched a Kickstarter campaign that raised $47,770.

Culinary playground: Scanning The Commissary's events calendar is like playing a game of culinary roulette. Silas Caeton and Avishar Barua (both formerly of Veritas Tavern) may be serving a Bangladeshi-inspired dinner. Matt Swint of Matija Breads may be teaching a pizza-making class for kids. Or there may be a Columbus Knife Fight Club showdown between chefs Bill Glover of Gallerie Bar & Bistro and Andrew Smith of The Rossi. "When people started coming in and using the space the way I kept telling everyone over and over for years they would, I said, 'Yes! I knew it!' " Djupe says.

Cool beans: By late summer, The Commissary will open its brewery-roastery room. Here, Fred Lee of Actual Brewing Co. and Mark Swanson of Stauf's Coffee Roasters will serve as advisors. "Like with our kitchens, you could build your business here," Djupe says. "Two local brewers could collaborate on a beer that won't upset their own production, or restaurants could even use the equipment to brew branded beer."

Hands on: For chefs, Commissary events are about more than exposure. Minus rental fees, event profits go directly to the culinary teams responsible. And for entrepreneurs renting the test kitchen, Djupe and her team offer a range of services. "We help to make sure you have insurance, workers comp for your staff, make sure forms are filled out," she says. "We have to continue to create this culture where taking a risk is supported and failing is fine."


Age: 36

Previous gigs: Handke's Cuisine, Trattoria Roma, catering director at Denison University

Recommended reading: "Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris" by A. J. Liebling

Off-night eats: Helen's Asian Kitchen

Favorite ingredient? "If I'm at a restaurant and an item has pistachios or cauliflower, I will almost always order it."