The condemned party is secured in position. The blade rises, then plunges. Slice! The guillotine claims another victim . . .
And breakfast is served.
The condemned party? A sesame seed bagel. The guillotine? A device that holds said bagel, then easily and cleanly cleaves it in two in advance of toasting, schmearing and what have you.
The bagel guillotine is one of hundreds of gadgets, from obviously useful to a little bit kooky, on the shelves at the Cooking Gallery, a cooking store that recently opened in Arlington Gardens, the pocket-size mall on West Plumb Lane once owned by the Junior League of Reno and now being redeveloped.
The original Cooking Gallery has been in the Preaseau family for more than 30 years, first in Tahoe City, then Incline Village and then, for the past 16 years, in Truckee.
After decades at Lake Tahoe, why open a second location down mountain?
“I’ve had a lot of loyal customers from Reno for years,” explained Suzanne Preaseau, who now owns the Cooking Gallery with her brother, Micheal, after taking the business over from their parents.
COOKING GALLERY RENO
Address: In the Arlington Gardens mall, 606 W. Plumb Lane
On the web: Facebook
“We’ve had a lot of developers asking us to come to their developments in Reno, but a strip mall wasn’t our style. At the end of last year, I heard about the redevelopment of Arlington Gardens. It’s charming, a good fit for us.”
The Truckee Cooking Gallery meanders over two floors and 4,000 square feet. In Reno, there’s less than a third of that, about 1,200 square feet, so before opening, some editing was in order.
“It was hard,” Suzanne Preaseau said. “We decided to cut out the home decor and focus on cookware, knives and gadgets. We are known for our gadgets.”
And how. These tools fill one wall of the store, awaiting deployment for kitchen tasks. Besides the bagel guillotine, there are egg peelers and grapefruit knives and strawberry hullers and avocado slicers and several things to subdue garlic, to name just a few.
Lots of sharp
But Cooking Gallery offers much more than gadgets. Another wall is mantled in knives from six manufacturers any chef would instantly recognize.
“I love my knife wall,” Preaseau said. Among the hanging cutlery are Lamson knives with red handles and Shun boning knives from Japan and a chef’s knife from de Buyer with a carbon fiber handle.
“The handle has removable weights so you can custom weight the knife to your preference,” Preaseau said.
Preaseau is tall and lean and looks like she might have once been a dancer. The truth is far more interesting.
She began her professional life as a criminalist in Santa Rosa, Calif, specializing in trace evidence. “Like on ‘CSI,’ ” Preaseau said. After that, she owned a company that produced scented nail polish. Today, she co-owns a kitchen store.
“I tell you right now, a kitchen store smells a lot better than where I worked as criminalist,” Preaseau said, laughing.
The Cooking Gallery brims with goods, as if a culinary magpie had flown around the world and brought back the choicest bits.
French linens and tablecloths – “I get them from a woman who visits her sister in Paris three times a year,” Preaseau said – are among the store’s international items.
So are Scandinavian jams and cane sugar cubes from Swaziland and a line of Polish pottery housed across from the store in a closet-size room.
A multi-pane window frames the multi-color mugs, bowls, dishes, plates, pitchers, platters, pans and gadgets that sit on the shelves.
The pottery, a signature Cooking Gallery product, comes from Boleslawiec, Poland, a city known for centuries for its beautiful and sturdy stoneware.
“The clay the pottery is made from allows it to be fired at a high temperature,” Preaseau said. “You can bake with it, microwave it, freeze it. It’s very tough.”
Back in the Cooking Gallery proper, there’s more wandering to be had.
De Buyer pans nest inside each other, their organic beeswax finish protecting against oxidation and promoting their nonstick quality. Woks and paella pans hang overhead. There are raclette pans and pizzelle irons and a kettle for boiling fruit, with a hose to drain off the juice.
The beverage area sports copper Moscow mule cups, Mason jar place card holders, rum tasting sets, sparkly vinyl wine purses with wine keys, and what might be the greatest gadget in the entire store.
It’s a watermelon keg kit. You hollow out a watermelon, purée the fruit, add vodka, pour the drink into the watermelon, insert spigot and commence to party.
“Do you think people in Reno will like this,” Preaseau asked a customer the other afternoon.
“Definitely,” the customer replied. “People in Reno like to drink.”
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