- WELL STOCKED The Kitchen Collective comes with top-of-the-line appliances and a pantry loaded with all the basics.
The sharing economy has brought us shared homes, shared automobiles, shared working spaces and even shared dog care. Will a shared professional kitchen be next? Napa entrepreneur Garret Murphy believes it will.
The founder of Napa's new Kitchen Collective, Murphy enthusiastically describes the venture as a cooking club with a professional kitchen equipped with the latest gadgets and stocked with staple ingredients. The impressive facility, located in an industrial area outside downtown Napa, also features a dining area for cooking classes and demos, a cookbook library, a fireplace and plenty of additional spaces for mingling and hosting events. Walking around the kitchen, Murphy points at the massive Montague range stove, the spacious freezer and the batches of duck fat and sourdough starters available to those who rent the space.
The idea of culinary hubs isn't new to the Bay Area. Forage Kitchen, an events and cooking space for chefs, recently opened in Oakland, and La Cocina in San Francisco offers a fully equipped professional kitchen and a business incubator for members, primarily women from immigrant communities. Murphy's idea, however, is different.
Instead of offering business tools and guidance for food entrepreneurs or professional cooks, the Kitchen Collective caters to the passionate foodies and cooking enthusiasts who've always dreamt of playing with a performance stove, a high-end food processor and a dizzying array of flours and butter varieties. Members get access to the kitchen and will be able to host a dinner party or practice a complicated recipe, alone or with assistance from the collective's staff.
"Instead of joining a country club because you like tennis, you join a cooking club since you like to cook," explains Murphy. "You'll have a support staff and chefs guiding you, and all the tools you need to cook a delicious meal you might have tried in a restaurant."
Murphy was born in Boston but grew up in Paris, and attended the Ferrandi French School of Culinary Arts. He moved back to the United States in 1985 and worked as a pastry chef in hotels in Miami, Newport Beach and Los Angeles, and then moved to Napa Valley to become a consultant at Auberge du Soleil and Meadowood. He later opened Napa Valley Ovens in Calistoga before working for the Chateau Potelle winery for six years.
It took Murphy 10 years to realize his vision for the Kitchen Collective. It was inspired by a similar model he once saw in San Sebastian, Spain, on a family trip. "A private club for a hundred families, with a commercial kitchen, a bunch of communal tables," he says. "I loved it, but it needed to be Americanized."
The Americanization comes into play with a more interactive, experiential approach. The space will feature TV monitors where cooking classes by chefs can be shown live, and video cameras so members can show off their cooking skills in real time and connect with family members and friends, Murphy presumes, as they slice and dice. Restaurant pop-ups, seminars and chef lectures are also in the works.
"My main dream is to create a new concept that will be really embraced by millennials as they get older," Murphy says.
Those millennials better have the funds. Full membership is $250 a month, with a one-time initiation fee of $2,500; a "social membership" offers access to all the events but not the kitchen for $150 a month and a $1,500 initiation fee.
The Kitchen Collective has a handful of founding members and will open to the public in January.
"I've been cooking for a long time and thought the format was very intriguing," says founding member Clark Cunningham, vice president for a Sacramento-based tech consulting firm. "The open concept of how the physical environment is structured, coupled with the notion of pulling in a variety of influences and disciplines from professional chefs and other members was very appetizing."
This month, Cunningham put the membership to use by hosting a brunch for a dozen friends and serving them dishes he cooked with the help of a Kitchen Collective sous chef.
Is the Kitchen Collective a necessity or a shared-economy luxury? Clearly, it's the latter. But it sounds like a delicious one.
"It's a chance to share," Cunningham says. "Culinarily, socially and emotionally, through the shared love of great food, incredible libations and great company."
The Kitchen Collective, 1650 Soscol Ave., Napa. kitchencollective.club.