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Free standing kitchen shop is like a candy shop for adults who cook

A well-stocked kitchen supply store in Jacksonville, The Pot Rack is owned by Erika Bishop, a former Food Network executive producer who was part of the team that started the network. [Courtesy photo]

Who does not consider a new kitchen gadget or high-quality cooking utensils a simple pleasure of life?

I can say, really, that my very first salad spinner, my Thermapen digital food thermometer, cast iron and enamel Dutch oven, and my recently purchased heavy-duty Chef’s juicer changed my life in the kitchen for the better. .

Building an efficient kitchen doesn’t happen overnight. There are valuable things passed on by previous generations. You can have a nice, sturdy piece here and there, and in the middle pick up everything you could possibly need in a pinch from the grocery store.

But there comes a time when you decide to say goodbye to tin utensils or commercial knives (which were never as sharp as promised) and plan a trip to the kitchen store.

In Rogue Valley, you can find excellent culinary sections at most department stores and box stores. And there are restaurant suppliers that have well-stocked outlets, such as the US Foods Chef’Store in Medford.

But it’s the independent kitchen store that offers an immersive experience, the place not only for the latest cookware, but also for great tips.

Two local stores – one in Jacksonville and one in Ashland – are stand-alone stores that cater to home cooks.

The Pot Rack, 140 W. California St., opened. , Jacksonville, owned by Erica Bishop, in Florence in 1992 and moved to Jacksonville in 2002.

Culinarium opened, 270 E. Main St. , Ashland, owned by David and Constance Jesser, as the Jacksonville Mercantile in 2005 and moved to Ashland in 2016.

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In addition to the cookware, you’ll find owners who are dedicated to helping their customers cook with ease and confidence. They give good advice and are happy to share the latest on the culinary arts.

lifetime opportunity

Bishop is not the founding owner of The Pot Rack. The company bought the foundation when the original owners retired.

“I bought the shop during the epidemic and two days after the Almeida fire,” she said. “I knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Bishop, a passionate chef, brings great credibility to her work. She produced Food Network cooking shows from 1995 to 2002.

“As an executive producer, I was part of the original team that launched the network,” she said. She helped create several celebrity chef brands, including Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay.

What separates independent kitchen retailers like The Pot Rack from chains like Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table?

“We are part of our community, and customer service is our priority,” Bishop said. “Our employees have been with us for over a decade, so you can shop in comfort knowing you are well supported.

The pot holder space is small, but it is well stocked.

“We have a lot of stylish items,” she said. “We also feature our ready-made stock so you can really see what you’re getting. Serving customers is all there is to it, but Bishop also likes to surprise them.

“I love it when a customer walks in and orders a special item that’s hard to find – and we have it on the shelf.” The store has a customer base of 75% locals and 25% visitors.

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There have been challenges during the pandemic, but there have been some positive aspects.

“The COVID disaster has affected everyone in Jacksonville,” she said. “However, we are fortunate to be a kitchen shop at a time when people are cooking more than ever.”

Recent buying trends in the areas of bakeries, pizza ovens and cold cuts accessories. Wusthof’s high-end knives, ScanPan nonstick cookware, and Emile Henry ceramic cookware and bakeware also sell well.

“We are celebrating our 30th anniversary, and we invite our customers to celebrate with us,” she said.

For more information visit thepotrack.com.

fill a need

The Jacksonville Mercantile was originally a gourmet food store with a selection of cookware. Jessers decided to expand their cookware lines and keep only a few of their customers’ favorite food items when they moved to Ashland as The Culinarium.

“Alison (cooking shop) has been missing since 2008,” Geiser said. “We understood that there was a need for an independent kitchen shop in Ashland.”

Constance is the family’s chef. She graduated from the Institute of Culinary and Hospitality in Chicago, Le Cordon Bleu School.

“Constance had a wedding cake business in Sonoma before he moved to Rogue Valley,” said David Geyser. “I am passionate about grilling and air fryers. We both love eating and cooking, and we really love sharing what we know with our customers.”

Their passion for business is manifested in their enthusiasm to share recipes, cooking tips and how to use the cooking tools they sell.

Culinarium has many of the highest quality items found in the big chains, but Jessers like to curate a unique selection of the best and latest products that they believe will please their customers without overwhelming them.

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“Our customers love being able to find quality cookware and specialty foods that they don’t find in grocery stores,” he said. “We have set up the store in a way that is easy to navigate and not too crowded.”

He says they love helping their clients solve problems and find the right tools that work for them.

“We’ve also developed more cocktail bar items, bitters, and bakery items,” he said. “The disruption caused by COVID has really made people appreciate fine dining and the use of quality cooking utensils in their homes.”

“People have rediscovered the joys of home cooking,” he said. “What could be better than meeting family and friends at home?”

Like The Pot Rack, Culinarium has seen an increase in sales of bakery supplies, pizza makers, and quality kitchen knives. “Our stainless steel cookware has been very well received.”

He says some customers are just looking for the basics but are eager to learn more about the new gadgets the store has to offer.

The store’s inventory is evolving, with new items being added regularly.

“The latest additions are a wide range of cocktail and bitters mixers, and an expanded selection of Japanese shoyu,” Geiser said. Shoyu is made from fermented soybeans, wheat, salt, and water. It is generally lighter, saltier, and thinner than Chinese soy sauce.

For Jessers, it’s a two-way street: They love to share ideas with buyers, “but we’ve also learned a lot from our customers.”

For more information, see ashlandculinarium.com.

Click here to read the 2022 edition of Notre Vallée.

Samantha Arnold

<p class="sign">"Web fanatic. Travel scholar. Certified music evangelist. Coffee expert. Unapologetic internet guru. Beer nerd."</p>

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