When groups show up to for a teambuilding cooking class at The Third Space in Atlanta, they often tote along family pictures, grandma’s favorite soup pot, or table décor. Chef Asha Gomez opened the $350,000 kitchen private-use venue in the Inman Park neighborhood in April, as a complement to her award-winning, Kerala-inspired restaurant, Cardamom Hill.
“I want to break down that fourth wall that separates participants from chefs,” she says. “I wanted to create a space with the warmth of a home kitchen, which is why I use high-end Miele home appliances instead of industrial equipment, and why I encourage groups to personalize the 1,500-sf space.”
Groups aren’t the only ones who visit the 10-seat counter and 12-seat dining table. Local guest Chefs do too. When Chef Joe Truex from Watershed came in to teach a “conversation”—Chef Gomez’s preferred term for classes—he brought his New Orleans background with him, as well as his mother’s gumbo pot and fine china. He taught how to make gumbo and varied styles of roux while sharing stories of learning to cook.
Chef Gomez’ own favorite class is called a Room Full of Mangos. The recent semifinalist in Food & Wine’s “People’s Choice Best New Chef” says her love affair with mangos began when she was six.
“I take groups through a mango tasting of varieties available in Georgia, discussing the nuances of pulps, which to use in salads or for juicing, and how to incorporate mangos in preserves or chutney,” she says.
The Third Space doesn’t have a liquor license, but local vendors have contributed wine or alcohol for groups wishing to do a food and beverage pairing.
Teambuilding sessions for 20 people can last up to five hours. Participants generally arrive around 9:30 am, have light snacks and beverages, and then lunch is prepared. Dinner events are also available. For 10 or under participants, two chefs guide the group. When larger than 10, they’re divided into three groups to make a 3-course meal led by three chefs.
The Third Space has a roster of Atlanta chefs from which to choose, but groups can also request someone else. Chef Gomez will contact the chef and make the arrangements, just as she just did recently for a group of 20 who wanted to create a Sunday-style supper. She worked with their chef on the menu and the group decorated the kitchen with personal artwork to create a homey atmosphere.
Gomez says, “The Third Space is designed for the amateur cook, to show that this food is simple to do. I want to inspire them to cook.”