Durham, N.C. — The Cookery is a place where dreams come true - at least it is for Julie Hunter and boyfriend Reginald Stephens. The Durham couple said they were able to pursue their dream of starting a bakery by renting space there.
Now, Dolce Desserts is up and running - thanks to the bakery space at The Cookery.
The story is similar.
Chefs for food trucks American Meltdown, Chirba Chirba, Pie Pushers and Sympathy for the Deli are just a few of the people who regularly rent space to perfect recipes, smoke meats and prepare food.
When we visited, Sympathy for the Deli was roasting beef and smoking pastrami and turkey.
"When you are in the kitchen you are surrounded by people with creative energy," co-owner Rochelle Johnson said.
Nearly two years ago, The Cookery was born in the historic Durham Food Co-op building on West Chapel Hill Street in Durham. But it wasn't always supposed to be a kitchen space.
Johnson and her husband Nick Hawthorne-Johnson, an acupuncturist, had originally planned to open a holistic birthing center. When plans changed, they decided to pursue the kitchen incubator.
"As we were building out the kitchen, the food truck boom was happening," Johnson said.
It soon became a great creative space for food truck chefs to collaborate together. Chefs often offer advice to one another, Johnson said. The environment is supportive, instead of competitive.
The Cookery members have created a community – one that grew when the building's front room opened for party rentals last September. The area is open for events, including weddings and culinary workshops. It has also become the Southeast's only revolving pop-up restaurant.
For three days in early February, the front room became Hakanai, a Japanese-inspired eatery from Toast owners Billy and Kelli Cotter. During the limited run, the restaurant was completely booked.
Johnson said more pop-up restaurants are planned.
When people book events in the Front Room, they also have the option of booking catering from Cookery members, who are eager to showcase different sides of their cuisine.
The 2,500 square-foot facility has a mezzanine and outdoor patio.