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February 20, 2013

Women whip up ‘Recipe for Economic Growth’

By Jessica Strachan
C & G Staff Writer

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Women whip up ‘Recipe for Economic Growth’
Culinary Studio owners Cassandra Morrison, known as “Chef Cassie,” and Jo Coleman pose for a photo in the kitchen.

SOUTHFIELD — It’s a chef’s dream: a state-of-the-art, shiny and practical kitchen, full of equipment available to create any dish and entertain in any social setting.

In fact, it was the dream of local chefs Cassandra Morrison and Jo Coleman to establish what the French termed “batterie de cuisine” — a space with every utensil a chef could imagine (sans a deep fryer, because these chefs believe in healthy eating).

“The Culinary Studio is an incubator of sorts for food entrepreneurs to create their products or to run their business. … Some folks create products, and then we also have caterers or bakers that have clients to serve,” explained Morrison, who goes by “Chef Cassie.”

In 2010, the two culinary entrepreneurs launched the rentable kitchen space called The Culinary Studio in Southfield. To celebrate two successful years in business, they’ve planned a foodie’s perfect night.

“The Culinary Studio works because, when we created it, the closest kitchen around was in (western) Michigan. We are the first in the metro Detroit area,” Morrison said. “We knew there would be other people out there who needed this type of service, like we did.”

Morrison, who works as a personal chef, and Coleman, who has a healthy eating company, said they put in the research to building the best kitchen possible after being in the position where they both sought a proper workspace. Together, they toured facilities in the Midwest and scouted out resources from around the country to bring back to Southfield — a city they both used to live in and feel is central to the area.

The outcome was a shared-use kitchen, with top-notch equipment, two separate working areas, a walk-in cooler and refrigerator, numerous burners, ovens, a char broiler, a griddle, a convection oven and 24/7 availability.

Coleman said the two-year anniversary event is to celebrate their success as business owners, but it’s also an occasion to toast the local chefs who served up something to be proud of inside The Culinary Studio.

“Our success over the past two years has indeed been a collaborative effort. We couldn’t have done it without the support of our culinary clients,” she said. “This is a celebration for both our clients and us.”

Morrison noted that the space is available for food prep, catering, baking, cooking classes and social events. The idea is that culinary entrepreneurs can reduce overhead costs while on their way to launching or taking their business to the next level.

“We really feel like we are tapping into the economic growth for Michigan. Because we are giving these clients an opportunity to get their products out, we are supporting Michigan,” she said. “We really are excited so many clients have been able to captivate the market.”

Whole Foods Market, local farmers markets and community grocers are just a few of the places that The Culinary Studio clients have landed their products, Morrison said. Recipes for everything from granola to hot sauce, salad dressing and soups have been perfected in the space.

Culinary hopefuls will also learn a tip or two about making it in the business, Morrison added.

The celebration Feb. 28 will feature food sampling, cooking demonstrations and a bake-off challenge, with door prizes and networking rounding out the event.

Current clients of The Culinary Studio will be on hand to showcase their product success stories. Special guests include native Detroiter Amy Hilliard, founder and CEO of The Comfort Cake Co., which makes the  “pound cake so good, it feels like a hug!” Other guests include Michelle Bommarito, Food Network’s first wedding cake challenger. They will share their entrepreneurial wisdom throughout the evening. 

Reservations to the free event are not required, though are appreciated. For more information, visit www.myculinarystudio.com. The event will be held 4-8 p.m. Feb. 28 at The Culinary Studio, 29673 Northwestern Highway in Southfield.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Jessica Strachan at jstrachan@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1108.