Our holiday Sponsor Spotlight is The Kitchen Store in Owego. Maggie Reeger, FaHN VISTA, spoke with the owner, Sue Michaels.
About the store:
The Kitchen Store, owned by Sue Michaels, opened 5 years ago at its original location in Apalachin. For the past two years, the store has been at 59 North Ave in Owego. Years before opening her own store, Sue taught cooking classes at a kitchen store on Front Street in Owego. Although the store closed a few years ago, it gave Sue the inspiration to start her own business. “I really enjoyed teaching the classes and thought I would enjoy it on a full time basis.”
Sue sells useful kitchen gadgets and basic equipment, in addition to local products like honey, handmade aprons, and more eclectic items. The Kitchen Store is also a distribution spot for a Wholeshare group, where group members can stop by each week to pick up their local food and produce.
Background in cooking and teaching classes:
Cooking classes are offered twice a week at The Kitchen Store, ranging from French cuisine to pierogie-making to Buddha Bowls. Sue’s ideas for the classes often stem from “talking food” with her customers. Her daughter also offers painting classes each week at the store.
Sue’s father was in the Foreign Service, so she spent her childhood in lots of different places. Her mother would assimilate some of the local food into their diet. “When we were in Korea, she learned to make Korean food. In Paris, it was French food. I used to cook next to her. I got a fascination for it and really enjoyed it.”
Combining her interest in trying new recipes with her love of sharing food with others leads to fun and interactive cooking classes. Sue believes that becoming a good cook comes from basic skills. “Mother always said, ‘If you can read, you can cook.’” She enjoys trying new recipes and expanding upon her already impressive knowledge of cooking. “Cookbooks have a language all their own. If you can read a recipe and understand the technique, you can figure out how to cook almost anything.”
Importance of buying local and being a FaHN sponsor:
Sue works hard to promote her local business and is a strong advocate for the regional food system. “Buying local keeps more money in our community. It’s fresher, it’s better, it’s close to home.” She attends the Owego Farmers’ Market during the summer months to get local food and meet the farmers who grew it. “If I’m buying a unique item, I talk with the farmers to get ideas on how to cook it. I had never eaten a fresh lima bean. The woman who grew them told me how to make them, and they were delicious.”
As a FaHN sponsor, Sue believes that “It’s important to support the efforts that are made to educate people on how to eat locally and to provide good nutrition.”
Baking for the holidays:
There’s a reason Sue’s tagline on her website is “Talk Food with Sue”—she loves to talk about food! She gave me lots of useful baking tips. For the holidays, one of her favorite things to make is pumpkin rolls. “It’s all about technique. You have to know how to keep the pumpkin cake soft when you put in the filling.” Christmas cookies are another favorite. “There’s a lot of variety when it comes to Christmas cookies—you can make all different kinds. And you don’t have to make a lot of them at one time. Keep the dough in the fridge and just make as many as you need.”
The recipe she makes every year? “Cranberry salad. My mother used to make it. It has raspberry Jell-O, cranberry sauce, port wine, and pineapple with nuts. My husband loves it.”