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L.A. Prep, L.A. Kitchen to build huge incubator and training kitchens

L.A. Prep and L.A. Kitchen find a home for local entrepreneurs

A sprawling warehouse in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Lincoln Heights will be home to the kitchens of L.A. Prep, a food production business incubator for local entrepreneurs, and L.A. Kitchen, the nonprofit organization founded by activist Robert Egger.

L.A. Prep, co-founded by Food Centricity and Civic Enterprise Development, will provide commercial kitchens for small food businesses in 36,000 square feet of the new facility, and an additional 20,000 square feet will be dedicated to L.A. Kitchen's social enterprise and culinary training programs.

L.A. Prep will help grow self-made businesses, provide infrastructure and help get products to market, said spokeswoman Kristen Irving. L.A. Kitchen, modeled after Egger's DC Central Kitchen, will provide hands-on culinary training to emancipated foster youth and older adults transitioning out of incarceration in a 15-week course and internship. Graduates will receive food handling certificates, job placement support and continuing personal and professional support.

The dual aim of L.A. Kitchen is to tackle both unemployment and food waste. L.A. Kitchen will work with local farmers and produce wholesale companies to collect fruits and vegetables that are unsalable because of cosmetic issues or lack of commercial demand. Recovered and purchased food will be used to prepare healthful meals for seniors, after-school programs and drug treatment and homeless centers.

During construction of its facility, L.A. Kitchen's 15-week training program will be offered at Meals on wheels, with 12 students in its pilot program.

Meanwhile, L.A. Prep is expected to provide about 55 commercial kitchens that suit various culinary and nutritional specifications, such as kosher or dairy-free. "All nutritional and cultural needs have been accounted for," Irving said. 

A building dedication is scheduled for Thursday, and renovation will begin immediately, with a debut slated for early 2015.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
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