Gary, IN

ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen training crop of food businesses

Juan Saldana, of Chicago, a representative from Food, lectures at a workshop for entrepreneurs on Saturday at ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen In Gary.
(Kale Wilk/The Times)

Anyone who’s ever kicked around the idea of rolling out a food truck or launching a catering business, but isn’t sure how to get started might want to check out ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen.

Theaster Gates’ culinary incubator in downtown Gary, which was funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is training its first crop of food-related businesses, about 20 caterers and bakers in all. They’re looking to make a living or at least a side stream of income making southern sweet tea, baking cheesecake and other sweets, or cooking barbecue, creole and comfort food for celebrations.

ArtHouse, in a multicolored lantern-wrapped building at 411 E. 5th across from the U.S. Steel Yard ballpark, also is hosting free community workshops, including the upcoming Catering 101; Food Truck: Start Up 101; Legal Ingredients and Kitchen Poets: Baking With Nikki Patin. Anyone who’s interested can learn about the legal implications of starting a business, how to look for real estate, how to negotiate a lease and other practical matters.

“Gary is considered a food desert,” project manager Michele Larimer said. “We’re looking to teach people how to make food a business with all sorts of culinary programming … The workshops are typically Tuesdays and Thursday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. They’re after work, and we have some fun. There’s a lot of Gary talent.”

ArtHouse is setting up a commercial kitchen entrepreneurs can rent out as needed, hiring a small commercial kitchen staff and soliciting professionals to volunteer advice to hopeful and fledgling food businesses that get training there. It will have an art gallery and cafe.

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