Sep 25, 2023 - Food and Drink

A new communal commercial kitchen is opening in West Des Moines

Chef Cass during a cooking class.

Chef Cass during a cooking class. Photo: Courtesy of Chef Cass

Culinary Annex, a new shared commercial kitchen space, opens in Valley Junction Friday.

Why it matters: Shared kitchen spaces give budding chefs the opportunity to start a business without incurring the costs and risks of purchasing their own space, equipment and licenses.

  • The building at 304 5th Street in West Des Moines will also be available to rent for events and cooking classes.

How it started: Owner Cassandra "Chef Cass" Spence is originally from Des Moines and grew up loving cooking, thanks to her family and father, who owned a salsa business in the '90s.

  • That love grew while Spence lived in New York City. She moved back here to attend the Iowa Culinary Institute and taught cooking classes at the Des Moines Social Club before it closed.
  • In 2018, she started her own cooking class business.

State of play: Spence's goal in opening Culinary Annex to the public is to create an accessible space for cooks where they can network and learn from each other.

What they're saying: The restaurant world can be very competitive and exclusive, Spence says.

  • "I want to kind of get rid of that toxic culinary culture and really just try and work together," she says.

What's next: Culinary Annex hosts an open house at 5pm Friday with local food, music and a raffle to win cooking classes.

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