Finding Their Métier
South First shop is a cook's paradise
By Brandon Watson,
3:15PM, Mon. Aug. 4, 2014
Almost all cooks fall into two broad categories. The first will beam at a well-done buttermilk pie, but their business is in sustenance, however appealing. But sustenance may be the last goal of the second type. They obsess over craft, perhaps, or a tomato’s terroir. Their geekery consumes as brightly as that of Comic-Con cosplayer.
And while the first type will find much to like at Métier Cook's Supply, the second will no doubt soon be proselytizing. The crowd at Sunday's grand opening was too thick for Instagramming. That was partially because owners Jessica Maher and Todd Duplechan provided nibbles from Lenoir. And it was partially because Tipsy Texan David Alan handled the libations. But mostly it was because the shop vaults the implements used in cooking to the same pedestal as the ingredients.
The first hook is to the right of the entrance. There, a simple case holds a stunning assortment of knives – mostly attached to muslin-wrapped magnets. Behind the case, each knife functioned as a highly utilitarian objet d’art. One green-handled beauty wouldn’t look altogether inappropriate as an Iris Apfel broach.
A collection of food books live on the other side of the sunny space. Classic tomes like Larousse Gastronomy fill up some of the real estate, but the vintage cookbooks are the real finds. I was happy to see a title by Meta Given, a mild obsession since I inherited her Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking. I will be back for a complete set of Short Stack Editions, hand-bound pamphlets devoted to single ingredients by luminaries such as Virginia Willis and Ian Knauer.
The back room is primarily devoted to vintage. The best bet is a selection of refurbished cast iron that spans well beyond the classic cornbread pan. There's also a curated selection of enamelware and serving pieces. The tea sets will appeal to both fans of Mad Men and Downton Abbey, although the former may spend more time using the selection of small batch bitters.
And there's also a few things culinary obsessives will want just because. My companion gently chided me for coveting a pale sharkskin oroshigane. He's right that I would probably never use the grater. Real wasabi isn't exactly in plentiful supply at local grocery stores. But like my set of antler cocktail stirrers, it's a symbol of possibility, the promise of a perfect meal. To enjoy Métier's wares, one need not have a chef's skill set or access (although the professional is definitely not ignored). One only needs a belief that there can be beauty in the everyday. I'll be back for that grater. Ginger needs a sense of ceremony too.