Women-Owned Business Part 5: Michelle Mannix and Cook Space.

We are well acquainted with Michelle Mannix’s business ventures. She was in the neighborhood not too long ago as co-owner of Ted and Honey and recently opened a spot in Prospect Heights called Cook Space, a cooking school and catering space. We are happy to have had the opportunity to ask Michelle about her new business!

First tell us about your business and anythings special we should know about it or you.

Cook Space is a culinary studio with a focus on building culinary confidence and celebrating the connection and joy that cooking and food bring to our lives.  We are also a boutique private event space and we host celebrations of all types from showers, cocktail gatherings, engagement celebrations to seated dinners.  
Do you have any events coming up?.  

We have a variety of fun classes available for the summer listed here that include a baking class led by other brooklyn based baker – Jesse Sheehan formerly of Baked in Red Hook in addition to a variety of classes all in a hands on, engaging and very fun way.  All classes include dining on the students’ creations from the class in our lovely dining room.  

Tell us a little about your background and why you feel a connection to cooking and the restaurant industry.  

As you know and supported (thank you!) I opened and ran a cafe in cobble hill – called Ted & Honey for eight years as well as a farm to table catering company from the Navy Yard called Parker Red.  This was after making a career change in my thirties after spending about 13 years in Corporate America.  I opened the Ted & Honey with my brother – who is a trained and culinary educated Chef – whereas my experience in restaurants at that time was less than a year.  
I have a real love and connection to the hospitality industry in ways I hadn’t anticipated and that also evolved over time.  Both T&H and Parker Red supported local business in a big way (Caputo’s bread, D’amicos coffee, Fingerlakes Farms, Dines farms and more) and that was important to us.  Yet, I don’t think we anticipated how much we’d love or know that we’d be such a big part of the community.  When you are next to Cobble Hill Park for that long you have a real insight into the community and into peoples lives.  I saw a lot of the same people daily for years.  We saw and experienced a lot more from that place than just food.  We saw and felt a lot of love, laughter and connection.  Couples become families, families expanded, and some families broke apart.  People moved and new regulars came into the mix and a few of our regulars died.  Beyond just our team – our customers really felt like a part of a family.  
Seeing how important food can be to community, connection, and so much more  – along with my love of the hospitality industry, I wanted to explore what I think I can contribute to the conversation and culture of food – given my background, experience and exposure.  And what I discovered about cooking or putting on events and serving people food (including yourself) is that if the approach to all of this is shifted in a few fundamental ways and that what we (restaurant people) do – in terms of how we approach food, the menu, prep, plating and more – can be translated to the home cook in ways that I don’t see much of.  Cook Space is a way to explore and develop that in many forms.  
We’d like to know about your experience within your new community.  Why did you choose the neighborhood that you did to open your business and how have you become involved within Prospect Heights?
It was the space that was the decision – which was the same with Ted & Honey.  I knew I wanted to be in Brooklyn but wanted a different model than the traditional home cooking schools – one that felt like or had a bit of a home feeling in it.  I saw a listing for another space in the building and the broker told me it was taken, but he had another that didn’t look as good on line as it did in person.  Within 2 minutes of walking in I told him i’d take it.  
We’ve become involved in our local community sort of the same way we did with Ted & Honey – by supporting local business first.  We love to support R&D foods, Vanderbilt Wines, and of course the local C-town on Vanderbilt.  We’ve also been members of the Lancaster CSA which has a pick up in our building and hosted, with our neighboring tenants, a holiday open house to show the space to people in the neighborhood.  We’re also active in supporting local food entrepreneurs and have created special rates for them in addition to supporting the local schools with their fund-raisers.
What advice would you give to young women who want to open a small business and thrive.  
Go for it!   But put pen to paper first.  Its extremely helpful to not only see your vision and idea  – but to map it out. Doesn’t have to be a formal business plan (you should see my Ted & Honey plan!) but it helps not only make it more of a reality but it becomes the beginning workings of a plan.  Whether or not you have anything to execute on at that moment, you always have something to go back to to tinker with and ideate on – instead of just the actual dream.
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