For years, food entrepreneurs in Ottawa bemoaned the lack of incubator space. One might dream up the tastiest innovation in town, but without a commercial kitchen it’s impossible to take the idea to market. Things are changing for the better though with opening of TastersHUB; a café, incubator kitchen, catering company, culinary school and event space right here in Ottawa.
Nandini Sarkar, the brains behind TastersHUB, said she “grew up in a home where food was really central.”
“My family is Bengali and our home was in a francophone neighbourhood in Montreal,” Sarkar explained. “We had the chance to embrace our own culture while also enjoying lots of cosmopolitan influences. Weekends were always spent socializing and feasting with other Bengali families in an extended social network that I guess was really my first hub.”
With a background in event coordination, two years ago Nandini launched a series of culinary competitions called Tasters Choice. While the events were popular, she found it increasingly challenging to find venues. Now, with TastersHUB, she finally has a space of her own. “I like that it’s my independent space and can be used for so many different purposes. I have chosen to call it a hub because my intention is to provide the nucleus for others in the food industry.”
The café – led by Cordon Bleu trained Chef Nicolas Segard – is dubbed The BLT (for Breakfast, Lunch and Takeout) and is open weekdays until 2pm. Chef Nick and his team will be dishing up housemade baked goods, omelettes, quiches and more first thing in the morning, transitioning to a lunch menu that includes gourmet sandwiches and pizzas. As Nandini explains, the food is packed with quality ingredients and incredible flavour, served at food truck prices. The BLT’s limited hours mean the TastersHUB space is available evenings and weekends for classes (through the Tasters Atelier division), events, catering functions (via CANVAS Catering) and incubator time in the kitchen.
Other spaces in the area similar to TastersHUB include the Two Rivers Food Hub in Smiths Falls, who will soon celebrate its second birthday, and Ottawa’s Cauldron Kitchen, who opened its doors one year ago to provide culinary entrepreneurs with a shared kitchen and supportive environment.
The space is located at 70 Bongard Ave and the public is invited to attend to the facility’s grand opening on Saturday, January 31st from 7:30 – 9:30 pm. It will feature what Chef Nick has dubbed a ‘613 Winter Solstice Menu’. To be served up Tapas style, the food will showcase not only the capabilities of the TastersHUB team, but also leverage some of the relationships Nandini is cultivating with local suppliers.