We are 51% funded on our kickstarter campaign with 15 days remaining. As you know, our goal is to build a much needed rentable commercial kitchen space in Toronto to help food producers bring their amazing products to the market. This is our 2nd story highlighting a Toronto food producer that would benefit from a space like this and their challenges to date. Thanks to Mark Cirillo for taking the time to interview Stewart and for writing the great post below. For more information on Mark, click here.
Crown and Anchor’s Stewart Robertson says the Toronto local food scene is overdue for a dedicated commercial kitchen.
“I’ve talked to a lot of chefs who say they don’t want the hassle of renting out their kitchens,” says Stewart Robertson. “And I really don’t blame them.”
“It’s not just a lot of trouble for the money, there’s also trepidation. If they’re serving vegan, glutton-free or nut-free foods there’s a real risk of contamination if someone comes into your kitchen and doesn’t use or clean it up properly.”
As the owner of Crown and Anchor Food, makers of traditional sausages and sauces, Stewart understands the problem firsthand.
“When you’re grinding meat for sausages you have to be very careful about the spread of bacteria,” he says. “The Toronto Board of Health has very specific guidelines about how to do it.”
In practice that means the already small pool of available commercial kitchens in the city is even smaller for meat producers like Stewart.
“It’s kind of sad in the fourth largest city in North America that there are so many people producing food but it’s so hard to get kitchen time.”
Crown and Anchor makes a range of handmade sausages: German Bratwurst, North African Merguez, Mexican Chorizo, Cajun Andoille, Italian Barese, English Breakfast. They also make organic mustards, and plan to launch a line of barbeque sauces in the near future.
“Right now I’m focused on supplying restaurants but I expect we’ll be in some retail stores in Toronto by next year,” says Stewart.
But to continue to grow he needs to find a more scalable production model. Pretty soon, hauling over one hundred pounds of meat and equipment across the city to make small batches of sausages during off-hours just won’t cut it.
That’s why he’s looking forward to the Manning Canning Commercial Kitchen, a resource he feels is overdue in this city.
“The local food community is a growing scene in Toronto. We need something that’s dedicated to small batch artisanal products, where you don’t feel like second banana and you’re confident they’re going to be around for a long time,” he says.
He feels the new facility is a milestone for the city that will most likely pave the way for others in the future, as demand for commercial kitchen space continues to increase.
In Stewart’s own case, simply having sufficient storage and refrigeration in one place will be a huge benefit. But he’s also looking forward to sharing a physical space with other small producers and expects it will act as an incubator for new projects in the years to come.
“The local food community is pretty amazing. I’ve only been involved a short time but I’ve met so many people who have been willing to lend me a hand,” he says.
“Honestly, you really don’t know how great it is till you get involved.”
To learn more about Crown and Anchor Foods, visit crownandanchorfood.ca
To learn about the Manning Canning Kickstarter campaign to build a commercial kitchen for the Toronto food community, click here.