LIVE TO EAT: Up and rolling at MESA, a collaborative kitchen in downtown New Albany.

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I’m a tad late with coverage, but it’s been a hectic time.

It was an absolute delight to be invited to the media “soft opening” of MESA on June 27. MESA is located on Pearl Street in New Albany, and has since officially opened for business.

MESA is a “collaborative kitchen,” and by now, many readers are aware of this project. MESA’s web site summarizes the concept.

MESA is a state-of-the-art collaborative kitchen-classroom, featuring demonstrations by Southern Indiana’s and Louisville established and aspiring chefs. The collaborative space offers cooking classes and demonstration and also houses a bookstore, pantry, to go cooking dinners and cookware boutique. With the emerging and dynamic restaurant scene, MESA will become the culinary hub for Kentuckiana’s highly talented chef population to come and share their love for food with the public and each other.

Obviously, there are infinite possibilities for the use of collaborative kitchen space, although to date, most of the attention has centered on weekend visits by area chefs.

MESA, is VERY happy to announce Chef Dallas McGarity of The Fat Lamb, is set to perform, next Saturday, July 15th. Chef McGarity has won MANY awards and we couldn’t be more happy to have in New Albany!

At MESA media night, Executive Chef David Danielson (Churchill Downs) was on hand. Informative and entertaining, Danielson conducted a clinic of sorts, explaining how his team goes about producing memorable food for thousands at the track, while somehow managing to stay focused on the craft of the matter. As he spoke, a meal materialized — and that’s the main idea.

While noshing and listening on the 27th, it occurred to me to credit these three Churchill Downs culinary professionals in attendance:

Matt Sprague, Executive Sous Chef
Mathew Thomas, Senior Sous Chef
Chad Simcoe, Sous Chef

As with a singer’s backing band or anyone else on any shop floor, anywhere, these are the folks who make it happen, along with behind-the-kitchen-scene workers and front-of-the-house staff (two borrowed River City Winery servers kept the wine glasses filled on media night).

MESA is a unique notion in the annals of New Albany, and my hunch is that the outwardly expansive undertow will prove to be the collaborative kitchen’s lasting contribution, more so than the marquee chefs.

Smaller scale tastings, classes, demonstrations, events, private parties … these will fill the calendar and create the desired ripple effect. They’re the smaller bits of glue holding together the larger edifice, as with Chef Danielson’s team.

All the best to everyone involved with MESA, and thanks again for having me.

MESA, a collaborative kitchen classroom, debuts soon in New Albany, by Danielle Grady (So Many Cooking Schools)

NEW ALBANY — Bobby and Ysha Bass haven’t stopped brainstorming ideas for MESA since they went public in April with their plan to host live cooking events in downtown New Albany.

A ticketed competition between two local sous chefs? Good idea. Cooking classes for children? Cute and educational. Pet nights? Anything’s possible.

“We’re just going to have fun with it,” said Bobby, who is married to Ysha. “Anything that we think of that doesn’t put us in jail, we’re going to go for it.”

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