If you haven't already noticed, we're living in the golden age of foodies. The opening of Unit 120, a culinary incubator is evidence of this. Over the last decade, our generation has become more and more invested into not only enjoying fine dining, but learning about it and participating in it. And even more important to note, the definition of fine dining has expanded and reinvented itself. Artists, innovators, and entrepreneurs are all finding their way to the kitchen to put their personal spin on classic dishes and to push the boundaries of food quality and taste. People from vast and varied backgrounds are finding themselves in the kitchen, changing the game and raising the bar.
Going into the restaurant business is a huge risk. You can be an incredible chef, with an appealing menu and a wonderful restaurant, but still be at risk to loose hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. It's a fickle industry, guided by hype and chance. After spending money on years of culinary training, typically a chef with aspirations of being a restaurant owner will have to pool together investors to raise enough money to buy or rent a space, build their establishment and hire a staff. The process is not cheap and the pay off is delayed, if anything.
Because of the price of being a restauranteur is so high, many people find themselves paired with investors that aren't necessarily the best match for them in the long run. People trying to break into the business take whatever offers they can get — it's always better to lose someone else's money than your own. But this desperation to find money often squanders the potential for success. The clash of vision, the disharmony between owners, it all adds to a near sighted business venture.
This is where Unit 120 comes in. It's a culinary incubator that lets aspiring chefs and restauranteurs work on their menu, before they open their restaurant in their space. Alvin Cailan, the master behind Eggslut is also the master behind the incubator. He's used the space to take better control of his business and work on expanding it on his own terms. This program allows people like Cailan to knead out the kinks, train a staff and experiment with their body of work, before opening their own place, or while trying to revamp their vision. In the past, chefs would work out the kinks with the doors open. They'd risk imperfect early reviews and customer dissatisfaction because they couldn't afford to be practicing without selling meals to pay for the cost of the educational period.
Unit 120 not only helps chefs better prepare for their own business, but they help the greater good of the industry. It encourages innovation, education and attention to detail. It raises the bar for quality and return gives us foodies exactly what we want: food that's as good to eat as it is to Instagram.