About The Cookery

The Cookery features a state of the art commercial food production facility and incubation program, in addition to beautiful event grounds that include a ballroom, the Front Room, outdoor garden, dressing suite, and courtyard.

Our Kitchen

Through our commercial kitchen, we aim to provide the tools, both intellectual and practical, entrepreneurs need to launch a lasting and successful culinary venture. Whether you aim to cater events or create a line of wholesale products, as a Cookery member, you can rent the production facility to launch your business!

Starting a food business can be daunting. We are here to foster creative culinary minds as they set out to become the next big thing on the local food scene. Using the tools a Cookery membership offers, you have everything you need to make your culinary business a success!

Our Event Venue

In addition to offering services to local food entrepreneurs, we host a variety of events for both public and private purposes. The Cookery was founded on the belief that local producers can not only feed their community, but are the driving force behind culinary ingenuity and new food movements. Our community, the Triangle, is fortunately chock-full of innovative thinkers and food-focused entrepreneurs. The Front Room and ballroom prompt Triangle residents to participate in The Cookery’s celebration of culinary talent in a community events space connected to our kitchen facility. This unique event space is available to rent for private dinners, wedding receptions and rehearsal dinners, daytime meetings, and more.

About The Owners

After identifying a need for commercial kitchen access for food entrepreneurs in Durham, Nick Hawthorne-Johnson, a licensed contractor and co-owner of Bull City Restoration, decided to breathe new life into what once was the Durham Food Co-op building in 2011.  The kitchen concept quickly transformed, and Rochelle Johnson, an artist turned entrepreneur, resigned from her graphic design and marketing business, Row Design Studios, to dedicate her career to The Cookery.

Utilizing Nick’s entrepreneurial instincts and an “anything is possible” attitude, as well as Rochelle’s marketing and design talents to craft a recognizable and cohesive brand, this husband and wife partnership built a culinary incubator that uses the collaboration of many businesses to create new experiences and products that revolve around food.

The Cookery is now considered a culinary hub - in addition to providing commercial kitchen space for rent by the hour, it offers small food business consultation to countless member businesses, and a beautiful campus dedicated to private events.

The Cookery's event spaces offer limitless possibilities for the local food scene and the exploration of new culinary concepts, and is also the special place where countless people have married and hosted wedding celebrations with friends and family.

The Johnsons now own Cast Iron Group, a hospitality group encompassing a family of businesses that revolve around the love of food, drink and all that surround it. 


The Johnsons at The Cookery in 2009

The Johnsons at The Cookery in 2009

Cast Iron Group

Since the inception of The Cookery, the Johnsons have teamed up with new partners to expand their interests in hospitality.  Cast Iron Group encompasses a variety of businesses and partnerships, including Dashi, a ramen shop and izakaya in downtown Durham, and Ponysaurus Brewing Co., a Durham based brewery and taproom.


More about The Johnsons

READ | Read more about the Johnsons and the inception of The Cookery in the News & Observer article, The Cookery becomes transformative venture in West Durham.

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WATCH | Watch Nick and Rochelle's Creative Mornings talk about Bravery at the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh (46:32 minutes):


Banner photo by Jessica Arden Photography
Portrait of the Johnsons by D.L. Anderson Pictures