It has finally happened. After about a year of intense construction and repair works, we have finally opened the doors to Moldova's first food business incubator we call Katalyst Kitchens. This important milestone in the incubator development process happened on the 10th of October 2021 in the form of the Grand Opening event, which was "spiced up" with delicious food, cooking masterclass, gourmet degustations, and inspiring speeches from our partners and sponsors.
We started the event by inviting visitors to explore the Katalyst Kitchens incubator with its kitchen, laboratory, and training-and-conference space. Surely, since the incubator is all about food, we offered the guests to satisfy their appetite with some home-made dishes, like cabbage rolls, vinaigrette, and "placinta" pies, with locally grown vegetables. Those, who wanted more food products to enjoy at home, could purchase locally made preserves at the stand of one of our initatives EcoVillage Farms (www.ecovillage.farms.md) or from multiple vendors at the Potato Fest, organized by EcoVisio.
Moreover, the visitors of Katalyst Kitchens could also explore the food laboratory corner with some scientific equipment that we had managed to purchase and install. The setting up of this laboratory is one of the key results of the project "Ecological product innovation lab at the Moldovan Agrifood Business Incubator", which we implement together with the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague (www.vscht.cz) with financial support coming from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the Challenge Fund and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. Now the laboratory has electronic precision scales, microscope, nitratometer, refractometer, hygrometers, small mill, and all the necessary glassware for local producers to begin analyzing their food products and improving their characteristics.
For those guests not immersed into food science just yet, there was a free cooking masterclass happening in the traning-and-conference space of our incubator. Denis Seriojnicov and his colleague Cristi, the two professional chefs we had invited, gave our kitchen equipment the first "test drive" while training curious visitors in the art of professional cooking. Since there was a Potato Fest in Riscova at the same time, all dishes that the chefs showed how to cook were based on locally grown potatoes. Surely, at the end of the masterclass, all attendants could savor the delicious food prepared by Denis and Cristi.
Finally, there is no Incubator without resources to make it work. The funding of the Katalyst Kitchens is a patchwork of support from 12 donor and partner organisations, individual donations of hundreds of people, bank and social investor loans, of course our own resources and a lot of volunteer work. We were happy that most official representatives of our partner and donor organisations were able to attend the opening and share their perspective with the audience. Among those representatives, who had honored us with their presence at such an important event for us, were Mr. Maros Kramar, Development cooperation diplomat, Mr. Iurie Popovici, Honorary Consul of Slovakia in Moldova, Mrs. Zuzana Jezerská, Founder and President of Slovak Center of Communication and Development, Mr. Martin Roch, Head of Economic Development Cooperation at the Swiss Development Cooperation, Mrs. Carina Turcin, Agriculture Sector Coordinator at the Optim project, Mr. Tyler Beebout, Acting Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy, and Andrei Cusnir, Protocol Manager at the U.S. Embassy.
So now, with the Katalyst Kitchens doors finally open, we invite you to visit us, to join our community of food producers and entrepreneurs, and to start using our incubator, its equipment, and services. Of course, there is still much work needed to be done in order to repair and furnish the entire building of the incubator and to figure out an adequate membership model for the space users. During the winter months we'll organize several work meetings with interested to fine tune the space usage conditions and other incubator services. So, stay tuned for more updates about Katalyst Kitchens and the upcoming events at our Facebook (www.facebook.com/KatalystKitchens) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/Katalyst.Kitchens) pages.
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