Serve Gourmet Gadgets & Goods
Downtown Austin is a constantly changing environment. New bars and restaurants, new places to live, and new boutique shops are opening up all the time. One of the newest additions to the 2nd Street District is Serve Gourmet Gadgets & Goods, a unique shop offering everything one could possibly use in a kitchen.
Now, residents who live downtown aren't exactly thought of as people who cook at home. But Serve co-owner Bob Gentry tells me this is an outdated stereotype. "What we've found is the demographic of downtown is different than people think it is," he says. "People think it's young professionals that are out partying and eating at restaurants. But it's become a big city-dweller kind of environment now."
This new demographic consists of "empty nesters"; people who, after their children finish school and pack away, sell their larger suburban homes to try a new scene - Downtown. There is also an influx of people who have their second home in Austin. "There was a woman in here today who is making chili with her husband this weekend, but she realized she left their pot for it at their other house," Bob explains. "But we had one for her."
Even the young professionals, though, are having a greater shift towards cooking at home. In fact, Serve has a young gentleman who comes in every Friday evening to buy products to cook with. "What we found is that there is an incredible interest and growing movement of cooking and entertaining in the home, especially within 20-30 year old men," Bob reports, adding that he also read a study that over the last 10 years, the number of families who eat together in their home has grown about fifty-three to seventy-five percent. "There's a huge movement going on," he claims. "I think a lot of that has to do with television and cooking-related reality shows."
This growing movement is what sparked the idea to open Serve. Bob and his partners are hoping to be a store the community is proud of and will seek out. One of their other aims is to always be on the cutting edge of cookware. This is seen in their offering of a unique product, the Sous Vide hot water bath cooking system. Previously unavailable to the public and used only in fine-dining restaurants, this item vacuum seals ingredients into an airtight bag, which is than lowered into hot water. The water will then slow cook the product at an even temperature. Basically, it is the crock-pot of the future, and the public's interest can be traced directly to seeing chefs use the machine in reality competition shows such as Top Chef.
Serve will, of course, have all of your traditional cooking needs as well; baking sheets, pots, juicers, etc. However, you'll also be able to find those unique gadgets that can make the process that much more interesting (like the one that cooks omelets and waffles at the same time. Brunch, anyone?). However, with people beginning to experiment with a wider variety of ethnic cuisines, such as Thai or Indian, proper utensils are needed to prepare those types of dishes, and Serve can provide them.
"The other day we were talking about how the kitchen has become a tool shed," Bob relays. "The gadgets are amazing little things, and pretty interesting. It's fun to find all the unique techniques and tools that are there for them." And since we all know presentation is as important as preparation, the selection of post-production serving ware is extensive, as well. After all, the Thai noodle dish you’ve just crafted deserves an elegant bowl.
"We want to have a nice, home type atmosphere. We're a locally owned business and we're not looking to be over the top and presumptuous with what we present. We want everybody to feel welcome, whether they've never cooked or are a great chef."
Serve Gourmet Gadgets & Goods, 480-0171, 241 W. Third (between Colorado & Lavaca), www.servegourmet.com
Mondays-Saturdays, 10am-9pm; Sundays, 11am-6pm.