In a space that once used to educate the next generation of culinary professionals, an organization aims to provide opportunities for people to make careers in the field.
Pilotworks opened recently in Northwest Dallas, in the space that was formerly occupied by Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts. While its members will use kitchen space, Pilotworks isn’t strictly a cooking school. Instead, think of it more like Common Desk for people working with food.
“We work with a wide range. That’s the thing about food — whether it’s a baker, caterer or restaurant … the common need is space,” says Nick Devane, CEO and co-founder of Pilotworks.
Devane, 26, has worked in restaurants since he was kid. His college studies took him to software, which eventually led him back to the restaurant industry.
“On my way out of university, my co-founder and I started this marketplace for home-cooked food; it was entirely a software basis,” he says.
But the software business showed them needs across the businesses, and the main one is space.
“We were thinking about these things; then we came across a kitchen that was in bankruptcy,” he says. “We bought that kitchen and pivoted our whole business to do kitchen space. That’s how we arrived in the incubator space. And since then, we’ve been adding more and more to help that same entrepreneur.”
People can apply to become members, and then they’ll have access to space to cook (leased with a certain number of hours a month and time of day), classes, mentors, food photography and space for pop-up dinners. The network of mentors draws from all of Pilotworks’ locations, such as Brooklyn and Portland.
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Devane says Pilotworks is intended for anyone who’s thinking about taking the next step in his or her work with food.
“We want to help make that process a little less painful,” he says.
And he hopes that goal will resonate in Dallas.
“Dallas is an amazing food town. It’s an awesome community,” Devane says. “I think it’s under-represented on the national scene. For us, there’s so much going on in the city. It’s completely amazing and something we wanted to be a part of.”