Kitchen time and Christmas

Introducing Oroville’s new commissary kitchen; plus, gift-wrapping for good; and free downtown parking on Fridays

If you know me at all, you know I love food. I also love to cook, a skill I’ve been slowly nurturing and find a lot of satisfaction in. The idea of the gourmet home cook is super inspiring, and TV shows like Master Chef showcase a wealth of amateurs with serious culinary skills and creativity.

Cottage food laws in California have opened up a ton of home kitchens for business. And for those wanting to take their culinary aspirations a step further, there’s also been an explosion in the food truck/catering sector. Those folks often need to either build a commercial kitchen (my old neighbor, a taco-truck owner, did just that in his backyard—it was quite an endeavor) or rent space in one. And that ain’t cheap. For cooks and aspiring small-time chefs in Oroville, at least, there’s a new option in town: Murray’s Concessions, Catering & Commissary Kitchen.

“We have learned from our own experience that it is difficult to find an affordable kitchen, especially in Oroville, where we can be comfortable,” owner/chef Jan Murray told me by email. “Packing everything you need in and out every time you need to prep can be really disheartening after a while. So, when the opportunity for renting our own space opened up, we took the leap!”

Murray’s kitchen offers space for rent by the hour or month, with prices depending on hours per week and storage space needed. The main benefit is having a Health Department-approved workspace that can serve as a home base for ingredient and equipment storage as well as delivery drop-offs. “We thought others would definitely benefit from this as well and also help to make our burden of cost lighter,” Murray explained.

Murray speaks from experience. She and her husband, Jason, opened Murray’s Concessions, a local catering company, earlier this year and also have Murray’s Red Wagon, a truck she hopes to take on the “local food-truck circuit” soon. Her theme is American bistro, with French and Italian influence—“think panini sandwiches and warm soups and simmers,” she says.

For those interested in renting kitchen space, the commissary will be open starting Jan. 1. Call or email Murray at 712-5386 or for more information.

That’s a wrap Leading up to Christmas (and Hanukkah, which starts Christmas Eve this year), the Chico Mall is once again the location of a gift-wrapping booth run by volunteers and benefiting local nonprofits. Stop by today (Dec. 8) from 3-9 p.m., with proceeds benefiting Chico State CLIC, and Dec. 9-23, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and Dec. 24 till 6, benefiting ARC of Butte County. I’ll be joining some of my CN&R co-workers at the booth at lunch time on Dec. 15. Stop by and I’ll wrap for you!

Free parking! In an effort to encourage people to shop downtown this holiday season, the city of Chico is waiving parking fees (up to two hours, unless otherwise marked) in the central region on Fridays. So, for the next few weeks (Dec. 9, 16 and 23), come downtown and don’t worry about feeding that meter.