Hi, I’m Dan, and I'd love your support in completing Tinker Kitchen, a new maker space for food hackers in San Francisco.
It's a great time to be a chef. As an engineer who loves cooking, I’m fascinated by all the new kitchen gadgets and cooking techniques that have become popular over the last few years. Sous vide machines, molecular gastronomy powders, liquid nitrogen ice cream, coffee roasters, fresh pasta extruders. Each time I walk into Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma, or browse ChefSteps and Kenji Lopez-Alt’s food blog, I find fresh ideas, cuisines, and recipes just waiting to be cooked up.
I enjoy cooking in the comfort of my own kitchen. But sometimes I dream of having a fully stocked kitchen, with access to professional cooking equipment that's much larger and more expensive than the tools I own. It’s fun to experiment on my own, but it's way more fun to geek out over recipes, gadgets, and stories with other people who share my love of cooking.
So I was inspired to create Tinker Kitchen - a maker space for food hackers to learn and experiment with cooking. Think of Tinker Kitchen as the place where you go to create awesome food, discover new cooking techniques and tools, and train your intuition to come up with original food ideas. I also want it to be a space where you can hang out and share cooking experiences with like-minded food hackers.
What is Tinker Kitchen?
Tinker Kitchen will build communities of people who love connecting over food. While there are many places where you can learn to cook, they're primarily scheduled classes at fixed times. With Tinker Kitchen, we’re taking a different approach, based on membership. As a member of Tinker Kitchen, you can come anytime you want and hang out, practice your techniques, develop your own projects, and connect with others. We’re about following your curiosity and sharing that experience with others.
I'm thrilled to announce that construction of Tinker Kitchen is nearly complete. It's a 1700 sq ft space in San Francisco's Mission District. All that's left to do is finish a few building inspections and put in some finishing touches like ordering more furniture, equipment, and supplies.
Tinker Kitchen is open and spacious, giving food lovers the space they need to experiment together. The kitchen is very spacious and our huge skylight gives the space lots of natural lighting. We're also restoring boarded-up windows in the front of the space.
Tinker Kitchen is designed to be as flexible as possible. The front of the space will have small tables and chairs, so big groups can put them together for a communal meal, while small groups can still sit separately.
We'll have all the greatest equipment, from our ovens to specialty laboratory equipment, to the dishwasher. We'll have it all. More on that below.
The kitchen work tables are large butcher-block tables, so you can craft dishes directly on them. They're on casters so they're easy to rearrange for different uses like a class/demo, or a group working independently. Multiple groups can work at the same time without bothering each other.
Equipment at Tinker Kitchen
I'm a little obsessed with kitchen equipment. I want Tinker Kitchen to be a "kitchen playground" where home cooks can have access to the commercial machines which restaurants and specialty food makers use.
Tinker Kitchen will have a commercial pasta extruder, at least three ways of making ice cream (batch freezer, Pacojet, and even liquid nitrogen). We'll have chocolate-making tools—for tempering and making bonbons, as well as for making it bean-to-bar. And coffee—from a drum roaster to a dual-boiler espresso machine.
Then there's the lab equipment for modernist cooking—two centrifuges (a refrigerated one and a spinzall), dehydrator, freeze drier, chamber vacuum, and a selection of the powders and chemicals you need to make foams, gels, spherify, and more.
As a thank-you to our backers and members, you can help us decide what we will get next. Should we get tools to make custom chocolate molds? Or a pizza oven? Maybe a rotary evaporator to distill flavor extracts? The options are endless... you can help us pick.
Membership & Passes
Tinker Kitchen membership features:
- Use our makerspace as often as you want
- Access all our gadgets and equipment
- Join our culinary clubs to make friends and learn something new
- Bring one guest with you anytime you visit
- Host a dinner party—we'll even help you with the dishes!
- We'll receive your monthly CSA, Blue Apron, or other cooking box for you, so you can just come and cook (subject to space availability)
- Get discounts on classes, special ingredients, and events
- Get invites for special member-only events like pop-up dinners, guest speakers, beta-test new gadgets, and more
- Monthly: $125/month (reg. $150)
- Yearly: $1300/yr (reg. $1500)
Daily passes are perfect for trying out Tinker Kitchen, or for bringing in additional guests.
- Two passes for $50 (reg. $35 each)
Classes / Workshops
We'll also have several courses at Tinker Kitchen, so you can come learn to cook something new. At launch, we'll have classes on:
- Chocolate tempering and bonbon making
- Pasta making with a commercial extruder
- Ice cream, featuring liquid nitrogen and a Pacojet
- Sous vide cooking and finishing
- Coffee roasting and espresso techniques
We have many more classes planned: bean-to-bar chocolate making, custom protein bar development, butchering 101, bread making, various ethnic cuisines, and more. Maybe you'd like to teach a class? Contact us! :-)
Pricing: variable depending on the class, with discounts for groups and members.
Culinary Clubs, Talks & Special Events
The Tinker Kitchen community calendar will have all sorts of activities and events for cooking connoisseurs. Join a club to cook and make new friends. Watch live cooking demos from visiting chefs. Hear guest speakers, attend pop-ups, compete in cooking competitions, and more.
Private Events & Team-Building
Small events (up to ~15 people) can happen anytime the space is open. We'll occasionally also allow the whole space to be booked for celebrations and team-building off-sites.
How are we using the money?
We've already made a significant investment in Tinker Kitchen. We've financed everything from architects and building contractors, to paying rent and buying some of the equipment. Kickstarter funds will go towards:
- Additional equipment. Backers and members will help us choose what to get next.
- Pots, pans, racks, baking sheets, spatulas, etc. Chefs need a lot of miscellaneous stuff!
- Early operating costs—from hiring cleaning crews to paying our rent, there are a lot of costs just to get started.
The campaign will cover all of those, plus Kickstarter rewards, and other Kickstarter costs.
Who’s behind Tinker Kitchen?
I’m Dan Mills, Founder of Tinker Kitchen.
I love everything about food—cooking, the science behind it, the kitchen equipment—all of it. From my childhood in Venezuela through my career in the tech industry I’ve slowly expanded my arsenal of tastes, techniques and equipment, always tinkering with something new. In 2015 I started Tinker Kitchen to build an awesome maker space for food where I can share this passion with others.
The seed for this concept dates back to my college days, where I had the good fortune to take a very special biology course. Maker spaces weren’t really a thing back then, but that’s exactly what this was: a sculptor and a bio prof had a lab in the basement to explain real-world structures and processes by building physical models. We studied biological organisms, did research, and built models to explain them. I discovered that this learning style is not only great fun, but immensely effective: I can still remember the things I learned back then, even though it’s been almost two decades. I approach cooking the same way. I am not only interested in the end product, but in learning the underlying principles.
Earlier last year, I had the honor of spending a month working at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Every day, I woke up at 4.30AM, drove north for an hour, and showed up with my knives at 6.30AM. It was an eye-opening experience. On any given day, I would do everything from peeling buckets of onions, to prepping whole farm boxes of strange new vegetables (cardoons!), to butchering whole legs of lamb.
Despite the high pressure environment, I was impressed by how Chez Panisse has formed a learning community that values training each other to achieve excellence. But my deepest learning was not any specific recipe or cooking technique, but a work ethic. To be a cook at the top of your game requires dedication. I could be taught all the tricks to supreming an orange, but an experienced cook would still do the same thing three times as fast with no mistakes, because they have done it over and over for thousands of hours.
All this has led me to believe that in order for us to grow as cooks, it is not enough to only learn cooking techniques. We need to have a place where we can practice and a community that is excited to share our cooking journey. That place, I hope, will be Tinker Kitchen.
Risks and challenges
Because we're finishing up our construction, we've already mitigated most of the big risks in the project. However, we need to finish getting our city permits and approvals (building, health, etc) before we can open.
We're incredibly excited to open Tinker Kitchen and start building a community around cooking to share with all of SF. See you soon!
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- (28 days)