Spotlight on the Culinary Entrepreneurship Program

From Jyl Benson

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Located within the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, those of us at the Rouses Culinary Innovation Center by Jenn-Air know a relationship with a culinary entrepreneur has been a successful one when we get dumped. Our beautiful licensed commissary kitchen is available for rent for many purposes, chief among them for those seeking to quit their "day jobs" and start a business of their own. Through the Paul C.P. McIlhenny Culinary Entrepreneurship Program, we aim to encourage food start-up businesses in the area and to offer educational business training for aspiring chefs and other culinary professionals.

Our bright, airy 1,300 square foot kitchen is equipped with state-of-the-art Jenn-Air and KitchenAid appliances and a wide selection of fine culinary implements from Wusthof, Anolon, Lodge and Microplane—all of which are available for the entrepreneurs' use with the $25 an hour rental fee.

Yes, we give our all of this to our relationships then eagerly await the day when those we nurture leave us for their own brick and mortar locations. Over the past three years, we've been happy to share our space, expertise, and opportunities with several culinary entrepreneurs, and we look forward to continuing to build these relationships and forge new ones in 2018! 

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Our current roster of entrepreneurs include Chef Dee Lavigne of Deelightful Cupcakes; Chef Serigne Mbaye, who serves as sous chef at Cafe Adelaide while using the SoFAB kitchen to host pop-up dinners focusing on the foods of his native Senegal; Dr. Howard Conyers, a rocket engineer with NASA who uses our space to preserve the practice of the whole hog barbeque he grew up with in South Carolina; Noah Weinberg, a SoFAB volunteer who has evolved into a caterer frequently employed to feed people at tailgate parties; Sara Lavasseur of Jamboree Jamsa Canadian transplant who uses our kitchen to create all-natural jams and jellies with seasonal ingredients using her grandmother's recipes; and Good for Me Lifestyle, a business focused on smoothies, granola and other clean and healthy quick bites. 

Interested in renting the kitchen or learning more about our programs? Contact Jyl Benson ( for more information.