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'It's a good feeling': Calgary caterer expands culinary space to help other entrepreneurs


A Calgary business that once offered space to budding chefs and restaurateurs is expanding its own capacity to help more entrepreneurs get a leg up in the challenging economy.

Culinary Coworking opened its doors in fall 2019. The idea was to provide a commercial kitchen for chefs who didn't have one and is run by chef Herbert Obrecht and his son Andrew. Many of their clients have faced challenging times during the pandemic.

"The last two years have been absolutely horrible to their businesses," said Andrew. "They lost businesses, they lost employees, they lost financial means to get through this and it really is not only heartbreaking to hear those stories, but also brings us a lot of enthusiasm for what we do."

Culinary Coworking started with 362 square metres of space with four work stations - the same space where Herbert ran his catering business for 11 years.

"The reality is that if my dad still operated his catering company throughout the pandemic, I don't know if he would have survived," said Andrew. "So it was really the right timing the right place and the right people."

The bay next to theirs came up for lease and the expansion has resulted in an additional 557 square metres with work stations going from four to 20. Herbert says chefs have all the tools they need at their fingertips and they've built a community where he's able to share his vast knowledge.

"It gives them confidence again," said Herbert. "They come in here and they know they're not on their own, somebody will somehow try to help them."

The father and son say the pandemic magnified the need for a commercial kitchen space where chefs become members and pay for time in the kitchen by the hour rather than signing a lease, paying for equipment and staff along with utility bills in their own facility.

"That's the beauty of this is that we have such a wide range of clients and members here," said Andrew. "Everything from food trucks, to doughnut makers, to meal prep companies, to chili oil companies, to companies that deal with vanilla byproducts."

And the business model is working. Herbert is seeing people he's helped and rented space to now in business on their own, thriving during the pandemic.

"You know, we had some people already graduate from us and it's a good feeling," said Herbert. "They've got their own place now in Calgary and produce fantastic stuff and I actually talked to one of them this morning on the phone, it's great makes me feel good."

Learn more about Culinary Coworking here. Top Stories

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