WIN Free time in our kitchens

In November of 2014 when we opened the doors at Manning Canning Kitchens, we honestly had no idea what to expect. In the past 16 months we have seen some truly inspiring food entrepreneurs pass through our doors. From prepped meal companies such as Chowdy, who started in our kitchen making 200 meals a week who have grown so much they are graduating at the end of April into their very own facility. To our friends at Bombay Street Food who started with a stall at East York Farmer's market and in April are opening their very own restaurant on Bay Street.

When I started my preserves business, I quickly discovered that the biggest barrier to my growth was going to be access to commercial kitchen space. I was very fortunate to find East Scarborough Storefront and get access to 4 free hours a week in their wonderful commercial kitchen and when I graduated from there, I went to the kitchen of my local butcher shop, who gave me access to their steam kettles at a ridiculously fair rate. Without both of these wonderful finds, I am not sure my business would be today.

So we decided we wanted to give back to the wonderful food community that supported us when we were just getting started by giving away free time in our kitchen.

The contest will be judged by an all star cast of food entrepreneurs, including Matt Basile (Fidel Gastro Street Food Co.), Erin Maynes (, Cheryl Appleton (Canadian Women in Food), Kim Antonius (Pitchfork Company/Fairmount Park Farmers Market) and Peter Neal (Neal Brothers Food Inc.)

To enter click here

Toronto Rental Commercial Kitchen

Manning Canning Kitchens

It started as a dream 3 years ago and over the past 6 months we have been working hard to make it a reality. A rental kitchen in Toronto where small food producers, chefs, caterers, etc could bake, preserve or create.

Why did I want to open up a commercial kitchen? You may not know this but all food that is produced in Toronto and made available for sale HAS to be produced in a certified commercial kitchen that has been inspected by the City of Toronto. And when I started my preserves company, I quickly discovered that these types of kitchens were very hard to find. It quickly became the biggest challenge in my business and as I spoke with other producers that I met at food shows and farmer's markets, I realized I wasn't alone.

I was very lucky that I found the East Scarborough Storefront and for just over a year I was able to use their fabulous kitchen once a week at NO CHARGE to make my jams, jellies and pickles. And if you happen to live in the KGO (Kingston, Galloway, Orton Park) area you should definitely acquaint yourselves with all of the wonderful work they do and the amazing services they provide. 

And then I got lucky for a 2nd time; one of the stores that carries my products allowed me to use the kitchen in their basement. SCORE! It had 2 - 10g steam kettles and really allowed me to increase my productivity and batch up my recipes.

But even with access to these 2 wonderful kitchens, which is more than a lot of food producers manage to find, it was limited and my business could not grow fast enough to keep up with demand. My husband and I knew it was time to really push ahead on our dream of Toronto's rentable commercial kitchen space.

But building a commercial kitchen is EXPENSIVE and we knew we would need some help making it a reality. So in late September we launched our kickstarter campaign. We reached our goal (thank you, thank you, thank you) and it has been full speed ahead ever since.

Below shows you some of the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into the space.

The very first step was to ensure that the floor in the main kitchen space was food space. This involved degreasing the existing floor, sanding it down, and painting it several times with a food safe apoxy that left it shining.

main kitchen before and after

The existing space was set up as a cafe/coffee shop so we started by tearing out their seating, removing the 3 pc bathroom and building the great wall of canning.

Progression of the space from cafe to 2nd rental kitchen and Manning Canning production space

Progression of the space from cafe to 2nd rental kitchen and Manning Canning production space

During the construction, we were also sourcing all of the equipment for the kitchen, buying expensive transformers, working with master electricians, dealing with water outages. But each hurdle we came up against, and each hurdle we jumped took us that much closer to the finished product.

The hunt for the equipment

The hunt for the equipment

Today for the first time after many months of hard work, set backs, picking ourselves up all over again, painting and then painting some more along with a few other things thrown in there for good measure - my team and I worked in the brand new kitchen for the first time.

toronto rental kitchen

And it was GLORIOUS! We didn't have to carry all of the ingredients and tools we needed down a flight of stairs and soon I will transfer all of my preserving tools into the kitchen and I will be able to walk from my vehicle to the kitchen with nothing but my keys in my hand.

And the great thing is that we have created a space that makes this possible for other people as well. It has been amazing being able to see and SMELL all of the wonderful goodies the people using our kitchen have created.

Producers putting the kitchen to the test

Producers putting the kitchen to the test

Manning Canning Rental Kitchen - In Support of Delicious Pies

Photo credit: Peter Visima

Photo credit: Peter Visima

As you may or may not know, our kickstarter campaign is live right now. 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. I wanted to give you a glimpse at some of the food producers that would benefit from a space like this and share with you their stories. Thanks to Mark Cirillo for taking the time to interview Evis and to write the great post below. For more information on Mark, click here.

How our commercial kitchen will help Evis Chirowamhangu keep her unique Zimbabwean pastries in the Toronto market. 

Growing up with her eight siblings in the little town of Nyanga, Zimbabwe, Evis Chirowamhangu looked forward to a special treat her mother would buy for the family once a month, on payday. 

It was a seemingly simple meat pie made with common spices like clove and nutmeg, but years later when she immigrated to Canada, Evis could find nothing like in the Toronto market. 

“This led me on a personal journey to recreate the taste I remembered from back home,” says Evis. “I did some research and spoke with my brother in Zimbabwe, and experimented with the recipe until I was able to get it right.” By the time she perfected the recipe and started sharing it with friends, Evis had decided to start her own company making the pastries. She would call it Mnandi, meaning “delicious” in her native language of Ndebele. 

But she soon discovered a significant hurdle: “I learned that I couldn’t just make the pies in my own home and sell them. I needed to find a commercial kitchen to prepare and store the food.”

As she started searching for a suitable space, she learned there was a shortage of commercially certified kitchens in Toronto – not enough to meet the local food community’s growing needs. 

Amongst the ones that were available, some were cost-prohibitive for small business, while others were only available during off-peak hours like nights and weekends. 

With the help of Food Forward, a non-profit local food industry advocacy, she eventually found the west-end caterer whose kitchen she now uses to make pastries and store her supplies, but even today circumstances are far from ideal. 

Evis lives near Victoria Park and Eglinton Ave E. The catering kitchen is located on the other side of the city at Dufferin and King St. Having to make that trip every time she sells her pies at a city market can add up to two hours of commute time to her day. 

Weekends are the only time Evis can use the kitchen for preparing her pies, and because it’s an aging facility there have been problems with equipment breaking down, decreasing the supply of pies she can produce. 

So it’s easy to see why Evis is looking forward to the launch of the Manning Canning Commercial Kitchen. 

1. Located at Eglinton and Laird, it will save her at least an hour of commuting each day. 

2. With its fully dedicated rental kitchen, there will be more flexibility for scheduling prep times. 

3. And equipped with newer resources, there will be less risk of lost revenue due to equipment malfunction. 

But just as importantly, there are also intangible benefits she anticipates with the launch of this new community hub.

“It’s the connecting,” she says, “the sharing stories and experience, and working together in the same space that enhances the local food community.”

To learn more about Mnandi Pies, visit their website at

To learn about the Manning Canning Kickstarter campaign to build a commercial kitchen for the Toronto food community, click here.