The stand-alone kitchen shop is like a candy store for adult cooks
A well-stocked kitchen supplies store in Jacksonville, Pot Rack is owned by Erika Bishop, a former executive producer of Food Network who is on the team that launched the network. [Courtesy photo]
Who among us doesn’t consider a new kitchen gadget or a piece of quality cooking utensils as one of life’s simple pleasures?
I can say, frankly, that my first salad spinner, my Thermapen digital food thermometer, our enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, and the recently acquired heavy-duty, hand-held chef’s citrus juicer have all changed the my kitchen life for the better. .
Building an efficient kitchen is not something that happens overnight. There are treasured things passed down from past generations. You get a good and sturdy piece here and there and, in the meantime, pick up whatever you need with a pinch at the grocery store.
But there will come a time when you decide to say goodbye to aluminum-foil pans or infomercial knives (which aren’t really as sharp as promised) and plan a trip to the kitchen store.
In Rogue Valley, you can find excellent kitchen departments in most department stores and box stores. And there are restaurant suppliers that also have well -stocked retail outlets, such as US Foods Chef’Store in Medford.
But this is the stand-alone kitchen store that provides an immersive experience, the place for not only the latest in kitchen appliances but also good advice.
Two local stores – one in Jacksonville and one in Ashland – feature stand -alone stores that serve in -house chefs.
Pot Rack, 140 W. California St., in Jacksonville, owned by Erika Bishop, opened in Florence in 1992 and moved to Jacksonville in 2002.
The Culinarium, 270 E. Main St., in Ashland, owned by David and Constance Jesser, opened as a Jacksonville Mercantile in 2005 and moved to Ashland in 2016.
In addition to kitchen appliances, you’ll find owners dedicated to helping their customers cook quickly and confidently. They are a great source of advice and they are happy to share what is new in the culinary arts.
A lifetime opportunity
Bishop is not the founding owner of The Pot Rack. He bought the established business when the original owners retired.
“I bought the business during the pandemic and two days after the Almeda fire,” he said. “I know it’s a moment in a lifetime.”
Bishop, an avid chef himself, brings some impressive credo to the work. She staged cooking shows on the Food Network from 1995 to 2002.
“As an executive producer, I was on the original team that launched the network,” he said. He has helped create many famous chef brands, including Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay.
What sets independent kitchen retailers like The Pot Rack apart from chains like Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table?
“We are part of our community,” Bishop said, “and customer service is our priority. Our staff has been with us for up to a decade, so you can shop comfortably, knowing that you are well supported. ”
The Pot Rack has a small footprint, but good stock.
“We have a lot of different kinds of things,” he said. “We also show our inventory from the packaging so you can see what you can get.”
“I love it when a customer comes in and asks for something special that’s hard to find – and we have it on the shelf.” The store has a customer mix of 75% locals and 25% visitors.
There were challenges during the pandemic, but silverware as well.
“The COVID disaster affected everyone in Jacksonville,” he said. “However, we were lucky to be a cooking shop at a time when people were cooking more than ever.”
The latest shopping trends are in the areas of baking, pizza oven accessories and charcuterie. Also selling well are Wusthof premium knives, ScanPan nonstick cookware, and Emile Henry ceramic cookware and bakeware.
“We’re celebrating our 30th anniversary,” he said, “and we’re inviting our customers to celebrate with us.”
For more information, go to thepotrack.com.
Filling a need
Jacksonville Mercantile is primarily a gourmet food store with a selection of kitchen appliances. The Jessers decided to expand their lines of kitchen appliances and retain only some of their customers ’favorite foods when they moved to Ashland as The Culinarium.
“Alyson’s (kitchen store) hasn’t been around since 2008,” Jesser said. “We understand there is a need for a stand-alone kitchen store in Ashland.”
Constance is the family cook. He graduated from the Culinary and Hospitality Institute in Chicago, a Cordon Bleu school.
“Constance used to have a wedding cake business in Sonoma before we moved to Rogue Valley,” David Jesser said. “I’m a fan of the grill and air fryer. We both love to eat and cook, and we love to share what we know with our customers. ”
Their love of business can be seen in their enthusiasm for sharing recipes, cooking tips, and how to use the cooking utensils they sell.
Culinarium carries many of the highest quality items found in major chains, but the Jessers enjoy curating a unique selection of the best and latest they think will appeal to their clients without they are heavy.
“Our customers are happy to find high-quality kitchen appliances and specialty foods not found in the grocery store,” he says. “We put the store in an easy-to-navigate way and less cluttered.”
He says they enjoy helping their customers solve problems and find the right tools to suit them.
“We’ve also expanded a lot of cocktail bar ware, bitters and bread -baking items,” he said. “The devastation COVID has done has made people truly value good food and use quality kitchen appliances in their own homes.”
“People are embracing the fun of cooking at home again,” he says. “What’s better than gathering with family and friends in your own home?”
Like The Pot Rack, the Culinarium has experienced an increase in sales of pan-baking supplies, piz-za-making items and quality kitchen knives. “Our American-made stainless-steel cookware is very well received.”
He said some customers are just looking for the basics, but are excited to learn about the new gadgets being brought to the store.
The store’s inventory is growing, with new items being added constantly.
“The latest additions are a large selection of cocktail mixers and bitters, and an expanded collection of Japanese shoyu,” Jesser said. Shoyu is made from fermented soybeans, wheat, salt and water. It is usually lighter, saltier and thinner than Chinese soy sauce.
For the Jessers, it’s two ways: they like to share ideas with shoppers, “but we also learned a lot from our customers.”
For more information, see ashlandculinarium.com.
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