On occasional Sundays outside of summer (when it happens every Sunday), this culinary hotspot in Warren, RI invites the public to check out their facility and taste the products of their vendors. Hope & Main is a “culinary incubator,” where anyone who needs a commercial kitchen can rent one in order to prep and package their edible creations. Music plays, samples are offered, tours are given, and food trucks provide lunch, if you wish. Lisa Raiola and her husband Waterman Brown, founders of Hope&Main, gave an informative tour of the former school building; their passion for what they do is evident. We send our thanks for a wonderful experience! Hope&Main has lots of events, so if you are interested, look them up at https://makefoodyourbusiness.org/
It was a sunny Sunday morning, and all members of Culinary club radiated hunger and anticipation as we rode in the iconic, red Abbey bus to Hope and Main.
Hope and Main, perfectly nestled in the heart of Warren, RI, is a three-story, brick building with large windows neatly surrounded by lush, green areas in an urban-esque space. From the outside, this building looked anything but busy, with only a single food truck and some passing pedestrians in sight. However, after walking inside, the dynamic immediately shifted. Entering Hope and Main was like walking through the gates of Disney World as a child. In the single hallway with five or so adjacent doors, there were rows of countless, colorful booths stationed with eager vendors ready to sell their food (and some dog treats) to the crowds of hungry people.
I made it my mission to explore and taste from all these booths. Although tasting an influx of many different flavors, from spicy red salsa to ‘green cleanser’ juice to ricotta cupcakes and large doughnuts, I had my fill of fine dining (or so I thought).
After receiving a tour of the inner-workings of the building, we went outside to eat from this lonely, red food truck. I was hesitant about the food due to my inexperience with “Pan-Mediterranean” flavors, and the high prices. Nonetheless, I somehow found (or forced) hunger, and ordered a full roasted chicken sandwich with an accompaniment of a large side of garlic fries. Jokes aside, this was by far the best meal of the day, the week, and the month, etc. The chicken sandwich spewed flavor and the garlic fries were beyond delicious.
I very much enjoyed this Culinary trip to Hope and Main. My favorite part of the trip was sitting outside with the group while we ate our hand-made decadence. I truly Hoped for some great food and found it in a little brick building on Main. —-Michael Griffin ’18
Hope and Main in Warren, Rhode Island is a culinary incubator, starting up and producing business for local companies. The building is an old elementary school that had closed down. They are a nonprofit that rents out spaces for the small businesses, which ranged from the sale of desserts to beverages, and even included dog treats. The companies that really stood out to me included Popette of Pendulum which sells organic candies including lollipops infused with flavors like raspberry and lemon, but they also had hard candies infused with espresso and white tea. Another wonderful company was Borealis Coffee Roasters, which included cold brew and hot coffee. I was able to try one of my favorite drinks, cold brew. Their cold brew was really amazing and their company goes to show that you don’t have to be a big brand to have delicious products. My favorite company at Hope and Main was probably D’licious Desserts. They had many cupcakes with a large assortment of flavors. There were fruity ones and also flavors most people wouldn’t expect, for example Irish Coffee Walnut. They opened up in Hope in Main in November 2015, and are a very good small business with little cupcakes are extremely cute.
I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to see Hope and Main because I did not know what a Culinary Business Incubator was until the trip. It was very inspiring and interesting to see how they work in their space and to see the kitchen was very cool. Their organization and technique to keeping open and helping these businesses was so awesome to see. Mrs. Lisa Raiola’s hard work is very obvious and it has definitely paid off to not only the people working in Hope and Main but also is an inspiration the community of Rhode Island. Anastasia Dwyer ’17
This past Sunday, April 10th, we Culinary Arts Club went on an adventure to Hope and Main in Bristol. There were a lot of food vendors promoting their own products, including little cupcakes, donuts, sauces, and so on. My favorite vendors were definitely the coffee station and the food truck outside.
A typical thing one would say to compliment his or her friend’s culinary success would be “You would make big bucks by selling that. Open a restaurant please.” In reality, that is simply phatic—the food business is much more complicated. One might know how to make the best salsa in the entire world, but does not have any idea how to make it commercial.
Hope & Main, a non-profit incubator program in Warren, kindly gives those who want to start a restaurant an opportunity to do culinary startups in the right way. On the tour of the facilities, we saw the working process of the kitchens they rented out. Some kitchens are for pastries, some are for gluten-free food, and some are for vegetarian purposes. These culinary incubators are incubating dreams of those who wanted to step into the world the food business.
Interestingly, Hope & Main helped to start the amazing restaurant that we visited our last stop, Tom’s Baobao. Tom and his team had the skills for making Bao, and had a lot of chain restaurants in Shanghai, but no experience in the American market. At Hope & Main, they ran research and development operations. And it was with the help of Hope & Main’s board member that Tom’s Baobao started to release local-flavored Baos such as the Thanksgiving Turkey Bao to attract more customers.
Before visiting Hope & Main, I have never heard of anything similar to the idea of food incubators, renting kitchens to those who want to start restaurants in order to help the local food economy. It is like a school, not for humans, but for food companies. Christine Gu ’17
My favorite food at Hope and Main was the coconut cookie from Savory Fare. They also had different kinds of dishes such as chicken and chocolate cookies. The coconut cookie was a new experience for me because I usually really hated coconut in general. However, this dessert was not too sweet, but very delicious, which made me want to try more coconut foods later. There were various dishes, but the dessert sections grabbed my attention more than other things. The cookie with jasmine and rose scent was not too sweet, but had a great fragrance that made me try it for second time. The strawberry cheesecake cupcake was one of the favorites because of the softness and the sweetness at the same time. Besides various desserts, various topping including ranch, salsa and tomato sauce pizza dough also attracted my attention. It was really easy to try it and able to enjoy it because we can try different sauces. There were other dishes such as Mexican food, teas, chocolates, and candies on this culinary trip. But the most unforgettable dish was the actual lunch; the cubano sandwich was the best sandwich I ever had in my life.–Jennifer Park ’17
Rhode Island has quickly become a hotspot for restaurants and creative, food-based businesses, in part due to support from institutions like Hope and Main. Hope and Main is a culinary incubator with multiple commercial kitchens that comply with all the regulatory codes that allow small culinary businesses to have an opportunity to produce their food without having to equip their own kitchens. One of the companies using this space is Anchor Toffee. Peter Kelly started out making toffee for a friend from culinary school who wanted to start a candy store, but had no background in candy making. Even after moving away from the candy store, he continued making toffee in his basement to give to family and friends. After the birth of his daughter, Kelly, his wife decided to turn the toffee into a family business that they could pass on to their daughter one day. Anchor Toffee makes toffee the same way it has been made for over 100 years, with real butter and almonds, and stirred by hand in huge copper kettles.
The quality of this toffee is absolutely apparent in the contrast between sweet and salty, as well as the crunchiness of the almond and toffee with the creamy chocolate. Hope and Main and the culinary incubator concept allows people to have access to delicious, well-made food that would not be available otherwise.–Hannah Banderob ’17
Most mornings, my first stop at the dining hall is the coffee station. Today at Hope & Main was no different; however, this was no Stillman coffee. My first (of many) purchases was a cold brew from Borealis Coffee Co., a roaster in Riverside, Rhode Island. Borealis brews their iced coffee for 12 hours, enough time for the cold water to bring the sweetness out of the beans. The vendor and I agreed that anything longer than that is really just a cry for attention, because 12 truly is the magic number for cold brew. Coffee in hand, I moved on to Anchor Toffee: their signature Almond Butter Toffee was easily one of my favorite samples. It was perfectly sweet and savory, and didn’t have the fatal flaw of being sticky and cement-like in your mouth. Add two bags of toffee to the list of purchases. Halvah Heaven offered my first taste of halvah, a tahini based snack that can take on any flavor you choose. I tried the classic vanilla, but my favorite was definitely the Silk Road, a cinnamon, ginger, and anise flavored bar that evokes the taste of warm spice cookies. After a palate cleansing fresh salsa from Oso Canyon, I made my final stop at KNEAD Donuts, which I had been looking forward to all day. It was a painful few minutes trying to narrow down which six types of fresh donuts would make the box, but I settled on an eclectic group including passion fruit, chocolate, and brown butter toffee. They will not last long.–Sydell Bonin ’18
Last Sunday, the Portsmouth Abbey Culinary Arts Club went to Warren, Rhode Island to tour Hope and Main. The site featured a food truck outside and stands inside for sampling the various products that the companies were trying to sell. This is a place where food that people would buy at a supermarket–like frozen pizza dough and pre-packaged salsas–are developed for production.
As you walk into the former elementary school, you turn left into a hallway that branches out into a series of connected rooms. This space houses the stations of aspiring food vendors giving out samples for potential customers. One of my favorite vendors was a company selling salsas and different types of chili jams. Their salsa was average heat, with diced tomatoes, peppers, chilies, and cilantro. It went well on the Tostitos scoops it was on, but it was nothing special. Their real hard hitting commodity was their green chili jams, made from New Mexican chilies for a real South-Western taste. They served them on small, oblong crackers, which allowed the full flavor of the jams to permeate your mouth. The two employees behind the table let the product speak for itself, even though they seemed completely knowledgeable on their subject.
Hope and Main allows aspiring business chefs to develop their product in the sanctuary of their industrial kitchens. They help their clients to connect with potential business partners, and seeing that process opened my mind to the expansive nature of the food industry. The industry doesn’t only include restaurants; it also encompasses all the farms, supermarkets, and places of production involved in putting a standard meal on a table. The work done at Hope and Main streamlines the process for many new and quality products to get from an idea to a table.–Arthur Shipman ’18
Ohmygoodness I just LOVE SUNDAYS! One reason might have to do with the fact that we don’t have school, but the other has more to do with the fact that Culinary Arts trips tend to be on Sundays. I digress. I remember waiting anxiously on the bus, asking about a million questions regarding the “Meet Your Maker” excursion. Sure enough, we arrived to Warren in one piece and got straight to work, walking in before hastily ambling over to the various decorated tables in front of us.
The first table I encountered featured Just Like Nana’s raspberry and apricot rugelach, a traditional Jewish pastry. Admittedly, I had never heard of it before, but I was pleasantly surprised when I bit into the crumbly, fruity sweet. For a tiny little thing, it sure had a lot of flavor. I then made my way over to a biscotti station, where I spoke with the loveliest lady who explained her baking process. She featured an arrangement of different flavored biscotti, some traditional orange tang, some chocolate chip, some walnut and pecan (I favored the chocolate chip, by the way). Over the next hour, I tasted everything from sweet tomato salsa to cream cheese/passion fruit cupcakes—all local and handmade. However, I must admit the only table I actually bought from was Anchor Toffee, where I might have gotten a bit too carried away with the crunchy, buttery goodness. I have definitely found a new love for chocolate almond toffee.
Finally, after it was all said and done, the lot of us went outside and ordered a massive amount of food from Red’s food truck. There were only two guys on duty and those poor fellas didn’t expect a mob of hungry teenagers to bombard them with orders. I, for one, ordered my very first Cubano sandwich, consisting of roast pork, glazed ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, and yellow mustard. I regretted nothing. What a way to end a Sunday afternoon.–Maya Wilson ’17