About Us

We’re proud to support our culinary entrepreneurs.

Garden State Kitchen is a kitchen incubator that provides an ecosystem of support services for culinary entrepreneurs.

Starting any business has its challenges, but food-based businesses have their own unique set of obstacles to overcome. One of the first and most common problems food-based businesses face is finding suitable commercial kitchen space in the area. Our aim is to address that need by providing low-risk access to clean and affordable kitchen space.

We are located in the Valley Arts District of Orange, NJ, which is a vibrant artist community, bustling with the energy of a burgeoning arts scene. The building itself formerly housed an ironworks company, as referenced by its trademark banner painted across the top of the facade. Filled with natural light thanks to the windows, roll-up doors, and skylight, the building is conducive to the culinary arts generated in the space. In addition to its aesthetic appeal, the building was also perfectly suited for being converted to a kitchen by the Garden State Kitchen team, due its open floor plan and existing robust electric, gas, and plumbing infrastructure.

Kris Ohleth

Founder, Owner, and Operator

Kris began exploring her love of locally produced food over a decade ago. She has dabbled as a hands-on baker and prep cook in a half a dozen commercial kitchens and worked on several organic vegetable farms in the region. During these experiences, she discovered how common the struggle was for many new entrepreneurs to find adequate professional kitchen space and connect to essential business resources and education. Ever curious and service-oriented, she began to investigate how she could utilize her project management talents to solve this problem for the food community she had come to know and love.

She began her journey to open Garden State Kitchen back in 2015. GSK became the perfect amalgamation of all she ever wanted to do by combining her passion for producing, preparing, and sharing food and her love of community. Because of her professional career as a project manager, Kris already knew how to secure and manage funding, write a business plan, hire, and manage a staff, and perform marketing and bookkeeping duties. With these skills and a ready-made network that had naturally evolved from her culinary and farm work in the community, she has been able to connect the dots between the logistics, people, and organizations needed to bring Garden State Kitchen to life.

Evi Lopez

Kitchen Manager

Evi runs the day-to-day operations of the kitchen and does so with incredible passion for detail and service. She manages our dishwashing and cleaning staff, and makes sure the kitchen in sparking clean and humming along without a hitch. With decades of experience in facility operations and management, Evi has been with the Garden State Kitchen team since 2019 and is an invaluable part of what makes the kitchen work so well for our customers.

Rob Sommo

Facility Manager

With over 25 years in the construction and building trades, there isn’t anything Rob can’t fix. It is his role to ensure that all the systems and equipment at GSK are not only in working order, but in tip-top shape. You will see him around the kitchen often, usually buried in a project or enjoying treats from one of our makers. He is an amazing asset to the kitchen team and has been with us since we opened our doors in 2018.

Stacy Basko

Director of Programming & Curriculum Development

Stacy Basko is a marketing manager, writer, and recipe developer with deep knowledge in professional cooking, branding, and non-profits. Her diverse experience has led her into c-suite boardrooms, 4-star kitchens, and locked-down state prisons. Today, she produces branded content, workshops, and events at Garden State Kitchen, where she launched The Formula, an online workshop series for food entrepreneurs who want to grow their business.

Gabby Briones

Director Of Digital Marketing

Gabby heads Digital Marketing at Garden State Kitchen. Her energy is focused on connecting with our food entrepreneurs and the local community through social platforms, email marketing, and other digital mediums. Gabby works on connecting our GSK makers to workshop and retail opportunities to further advance their business, as well as communicating to the larger GSK audience about all the offerings coming from our incubator kitchen. Above all Gabby enjoys seeing family businesses grow and thrive at Garden State Kitchen.

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