ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Commissary, located in the Mercantile on Main building in Rochester, is a kitchen and restaurant incubator where chefs, bakers, and entrepreneurs can hone their skills.

They launched in October 2020, with only five members. As of March 2023, they have 60 members: small business owners and entrepreneurs using their services, whether it’s using their kitchen spaces, or taking advantage of their marketing knowledge.

Friday, March 31, The Commissary is holding a benefit called The Secret Ingredient. It starts at 6 p.m., and will be at the Mercantile on Main in Rochester. Attendees will be able to “sample culinary creations, tour the kitchen, watch live demos, and sip libations to a backdrop of DJ Sweetheart on vinyl.”

“[We asl] where do you want to be, where are you in the process, and how do we get you in the kitchen to be more successful?” said Barb Glassman, the interim president of The Commissary.

She says that about half of the members/businesses are 50% BIPOC and women-owned. One of those members is Gina Wurthmann.

Wurthmann attended three business schools in Rochester and is an immigrant from Ukraine. After coming from an industrial hemp background, she saw how healthy the plant can be.

Inspired to see the seeds — which do not contain THC or cannabinoids, but are high in proteins and amino acids — she started Divanna Chocolates.

She makes all her goods, either hempseed chocolates or decorative chocolates, in The Commissary kitchen. They can be which can be found at Tree Town Cafe in Penfield, Schutts Apple Mill, and Hopper Hills Florist in Victor.

“This is just the perfect setting,” Wurthmann said of The Commissary. She says she has been in the kitchen for about a year; adding that is against regulations to home-make chocolate for sale

Another business owner, Kayla Sandoval of Biscotti Brewers, makes her goods in The Commissary.

She says she was inspired to bake gluten-free goods because her partner has Celiac disease, and wanted to make higher-quality baked goods.

“We do work out of here which is a mixed kitchen with a lot of safety practices put in place so we don’t cross-contaminate anything,” Sandoval said.

Her goods are sold at a co-op called Pittsford MRKT, and to restaurants across the area.

And for another member, the brick-and-mortar store is on the way, but working at The Commissary saves them tens of thousands of dollars.

“This is certainly helping us become successful in our business. we wouldn’t be able to do it without it,” said Kevin Tool. He and his son run “Easy Eats,” a catering and food delivery service.

With the money they are saving now, they will be able to afford their location soon.