The moment you walk into Stock Culinary Goods in Providence you feel like you’ve walked into a friends house (a friend who is one heck of a host with one heck of a house) because you automatically feel comfortable and put at ease. And if you’re like me, you are also gleefully happy about all the kitchen tools they have; everything from the essentials tools for the home cook or the expert chef to the fun accessories that make great gifts. I love the personalized notes that are included on the price tags and how many locally made items you can find. Yes, you don’t need everything in the store, but you’ll definitely want it all.
What I admire most about the store is the selection of items and how well curated the store is. The owner is clearly someone who knows her away around a kitchen, whether it’s a knife set fit for an expert or a fun pie plate, everything is something you will can use over and over again, and most importantly will want to use over and over again. You walk out of the store wanting to cook or host a party, and everything in the store seems made to help us enjoy the process of cooking that much more. So course I wanted to interview the owner, Jan, for Get Along and Go and she was kind of enough to answer some of our questions:
Can you tell us a little bit about Stock Culinary Goods?
Jan: Stock was founded as a way to bring community back to the process of buying for your kitchen. We sell products and resources that will help you conceive of, prepare and present food, but more than that, we like to think of our store as a fun and welcoming place where you can go to get inspired, ask questions, and hang out with others who value the importance of mealtime. I am constantly introducing customers to other customers and before you know it, we’re all in far reaching conversations. People who cook love to talk about it almost as much as they love to do it.
What made you want to open Stock? What experiences of yours inspired the opening of Stock?
Jan: The dry answer is I wanted to open Stock because it wove together my interests and my recent career choices. Prior to Stock, I was the Director of Culinary Education and Food Forager for the Ocean House, a Relais and Chateaux Resort in Watch Hill. It was an amazing experience, but I live in Pawtucket and the commute was too much. Prior to that, I traveled the nation (and bits of Canada) writing about independent retail stores and restaurants for the eat.shop guides, which were a series of lush, print guidebooks that presented a curated selection of fantastic local shops and restaurants worldwide. Those honed my dedication to buying local and chef owned restaurants. But the real reason is that my husband and I haven’t thrown a party in 20 years or planned a vacation that didn’t revolve around food and cooking. We always end up in the kitchen. Now it’s like my office is the kitchen.
I love how well curated the shop is, what are your favorite items? How do you choose which items to sell?
Jan: The curation is an interesting challenge. At first, it was easy because I opened with a small selection of things I love. And I felt strongly that an edited store would be the best approach. But after being here for a few months and listening to what people want, I have a much wider view of what to stock. It isn’t enough, in a vital, urban neighborhood like this, to be the “cooking-themed gift store on the corner. “ When a spatula breaks or a recipe calls for a jelly roll pan, I need to have those things. So I still strive to bring in a range of quality, well designed products, emphasizing American made and regionally produced as much as possible, but there’s a massive selection of everyday items too, from peelers to honey dippers to egg beaters.
My favorite items will always be those things that are made by local craftsman. When helping people choose gifts, I love to steer them toward those things that aren’t “off the cargo boat, shipped out of the Dallas warehouse and fulfilled through the outlet in your town.” I have copper pots made by Jim Hamann from East Greenwich. I get the sweetest wood cheese presentation boards from Corwin Butterworth of Wakefield. And I carry beautiful measuring spoons from Beehive, out of Fall River, as just a few examples.
Describe your own cooking style?
Jan: I love to cook, but I am not terrifically patient. So I follow recipes if needed, but very loosely. Mostly I love to rely on a few fundamentals and just go with what’s in the kitchen. At the Ocean House, the cooks taught me to build flavor in layers makes all the difference. As far as what I cook, I do a lot of one pot and slow cooker projects because I have a big family to feed and not a lot of time to do it.
In your own kitchen, what are the 3 tools you can’t live without and why?
Jan: This question comes up a lot, because these three items are a shock to me. If you told me ten years ago these would be my indispensable things, I would have said, no way, not for me. Well at least the first two. But I live for my electric kettle, my rice cooker and my brilliant 10” chef’s knife. I’m only proud of that last one.
If you could dine with one chef, alive or deceased, who would it be?
Jan: She isn’t chef chef, but I would love to eat with MFK Fisher. Oh, the stories she could tell.
What do you think your secret ingredient in the kitchen is?
Jan: Salt isn’t a secret, is it?
Where is your favorite place to dine in Rhode Island?
Jan: No can do. I have a handful. North, Farmstead, New Rivers, Flan Y Ajo, Cook & Brown bar, Chez Pascal, Nick’s, ugh, I could keep going!
What taste you always crave?
Jan: Spicy, spicy, spicy. Nothing, and I really mean this, has proven to be too spicy yet.
Can you tell us a little bit about the events at Stock? What can we expect in the coming months?
Jan: We are always plotting fun events with some education thrown in. We’re often doing oyster shucking lessons and pairings with Campus Fine Wines. Those are a blast. We’ve got cookie decoration classes with the genius behind Eye Cookies. We get chefs in here to teach basic knife skills and sharpening. We teach classes, like ravioli making, to kids. We’ll have book clubs and author signings. It’s fun to teach new things to people, but at the end of the day, we’re really about community, appreciating food and cooking and having fun together.
Stock is located at 756 Hope Street and you can find them online at stockpvd.com. Thanks Jan!