Mid-Continent Public Library’s Culinary Center Is Now Open!

New MCPL Culinary Center Dishes Up Education and Small Business Support


Member News

Kansas City, MO – Mid-Continent Public Library has officially opened the doors to its much-anticipated Culinary Center, located inside the Library’s Green Hills location (8581 N. Green Hills Rd., Kansas City, Mo.). The innovative new Center features a teaching kitchen for food and nutrition-focused classes for the public, as well as commercial kitchen space for local startup food businesses.

“We are thrilled to finally welcome the community into our space and can’t wait to get cooking!” said MCPL Culinary Center Director Xander Winkel. “The mission of the Culinary Center is to enrich the community through food education and to support small businesses, and after many months of gathering all the right ingredients, we’re ready to start serving up these services!”

The Culinary Center will begin offering classes to the public in June on a variety of topics and catered to foodies of all ages. All programs are free to attend, but registration is required. From technique-focused programs like Food Preservation Basics, Beginning Culinary Knife Skills, and Outdoor Cooking 101, to recipe-centered classes like Make Your Own Chili Powder and Rubs, Healthy Caribbean Cooking, and Flour Power: A Kid’s History of the Tortilla, the Culinary Center will offer cooks of all interests and skill levels a chance to gain hands-on knowledge about food preparation, nutrition, and foodways (eating habits and culinary practices of people, regions, or historical periods).

The other half of the Culinary Center’s service—commercial kitchen space for local startup food businesses—is also now available. For a minimal rental fee, businesses can use the four commercial kitchen spaces, including two incubator kitchens, a shared equipment kitchen, and a prep kitchen. Each comes equipped with a variety of features—range tops, convection ovens, conventional ovens, freezers, coolers, etc. Scholarships to cover kitchen rental fees are also available to those who qualify.

“Our commercial kitchen spaces are an ideal resource for any food business without a current brick-and-mortar presence,” said Winkel. “For folks who have a catering or food truck business, the Library’s Culinary Center can serve as your home base. It’s also great for those who have a home cottage food operation now and who want to grow into a commercial food business. The goal is to provide the space and tools that are often a barrier to entry for many aspiring ‘foodpreneurs.’”

The MCPL Culinary Center is a unique resource for the Kansas City northland, which was part of the inspiration for the facility.

“One of the goals for this project has been to fill a community need that Library leaders recognized a number of years ago,” said Erin Kennedy, MCPL’s Strategic Projects Manager. “The Kansas City metro has a few resources for food education and local food business support, but many are costly, and few are located north of the river. The Library’s mission is to enrich its citizens and communities by expanding access to innovation and information, and the Culinary Center is one more way we achieve this.”

More information about the MCPL Culinary Center and its services can be found at mymcpl.org/Culinary. To inquire about renting commercial kitchen space, and to learn more about available scholarships, email Culinary@mymcpl.org.

Access Your World

Founded in 1965, Mid-Continent Public Library is the largest library system in the Kansas City metropolitan area, operating 33 locations and two Library-To-Go locations and serving nearly 850,000 people in Jackson, Clay, and Platte Counties. MCPL is an award-winning library system that strives to enrich citizens and communities through expanding access to innovation, information, ideas, and inspiration. Connect with the Library on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About Mid-Continent Public Library’s Culinary Center

The MCPL Culinary Center is a destination and resource for anyone interested in learning about food and culinary entrepreneurship. Led by Director Xander Winkel, the Culinary Center team offers customers a combined 60+ years of culinary and food business experience. Winkel, who has a background in nonprofit management and small business development, is joined by Kitchen Manager Taylor Smith, a registered dietitian whose expertise includes federal food regulations and one-on-one dietary counseling, and Program Manager Charles Tibbs, a former executive chef with experience managing a range of food operations, from small startups to stadiums with over 100 kitchen staff. Connect with the Culinary Center on Facebook.

Photo of MCPL Culinary Center Team, L-R including Charles Tibbs, Xander Winkel, and Taylor Smith.
Culinary Center team from left: Charles Tibbs, Xander Winkel, and Taylor Smith
Photo of MCPL Culinary Center Director, Xander Winkel, wearing black chef's hat and apron, standing in front of stainless steel commercial kitchen appliances.
Xander Winkel, Culinary Center Director, Mid-Continent Public Libaray