A dainty shop located on Extra Place - that little side street off of 1st Street where the Ramones photographed an Album Cover - Nalata Nalata features high quality décor sourced mainly from Japan. In the same way that Manhattan Sideways shares the stories of businesses on the sidestreets of Manhattan, Nalata Nalata, as their website explains, “is a retail experience founded on promoting awareness of the people and stories behind our curated lifestyle products. ”On my first visit to Nalata Nalata, I spoke with Angelique J. V. Chmielewski, who co-founded the business with her husband, Stevenson S. J. Aung. Originally from Alberta, Canada, Angelique came to New York to study fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology while Stevenson, her boyfriend at the time, fulfilled his masters in industrial design at the Pratt Institute. Nalata Nalata began as a website beautifully crafted to feature sections like Backstory, with write-ups on the brands behind the pieces, and Journal, detailing the journey and artistic endeavors through captioned photographs. In late 2013, Nalata Nalata opened in Extra Place as a pop-up store and, after falling in love with the spot, the owners decided to make it a permanent stay. Though functional in a traditional way, each product in the store contains intrinsic artistic and narrative values, many sourced from “multigenerational craftsmen who continue to refine their skill. ” Angelique first directed me to the porcelain Ju-Bakos, Japanese stacking boxes, which are traditionally used for food on special occasions. Representative of multilayered happiness, each box was crafted with a different glaze. Later, Angelique held up a glass terrarium box designed by 1012 Terra, a company based in Chiba, Japan that is focused on celebrating plant life. In the box was a dried flower reminiscent of the rose in Beauty and the Beast. “In order to preserve a flower, ” she explained, “pin it in the box and flip it upside-down. When it has completely dried out, it will be straight when turned upright. ”Though devoted to sharing the works of others, Nalata Nalata is cemented by the artistry of Angelique and Stevenson. From the custom-made cabinets to the slab roof ceiling, the two redesigned the entire interior of the store in the months before its opening, with the help of some additional hands. The carefully selected products perfectly complement the spare, bright space. The store's website also reveals a great deal of artistry, with each piece beautifully photographed, set to a white background, and matched with a whimsical remark and a few lines about its origins, making online shopping more homey and intimate. The wool blankets exclaim, “Cool nights, brisk mornings, frigid afternoons. Whatever weather the day may bring I’m a tried-and-true, dyed-in-the-wool cozy friend… Always by one’s side to provide warmth and comfort. ”Nalata Nalata is also working on their own line of products. One recent addition, the denim Ojami, bridges Japanese traditions and contemporary American design. Handmade in Kyoto, the Ojami are versatile pillows. Angelique and Stevenson enjoy using them as seats to “live low, ” but they also function as throw pillows. In the future, the couple hopes to get into more denim and hardware products, while continuing to curate objects they appreciate artistically and sentimentally. For now, Angelique says, “We are just happy to be here. ”
With the professional chef in mind, Judith Prince traveled to Europe to bring back the crème de la crème in kitchen supplies to launch her business from her home in Brooklyn. J. B. Prince is heaven for true chefs and an inspiration for the rest of us. There is an assortment of knives unlike anywhere else, with experts available to advise on what is best for one’s cooking needs. The rest of this kitchen sanctuary holds top-of-the-line kitchen utensils, gadgets, pans, cookbooks, bowls, and baking goods. Today, the shop is run by Tim Mussig, who has a degree from the Institute of Culinary Education and worked as a line cook in New York restaurants, where he harvested a passion for the culinary arts and its vast array of tools and products.
Located beneath a rental apartment building lies Gotham West Market, a space that is home to a variety of food vendors and a kitchen supply store. The restaurants offer a good variety ranging from American fare to Mexican, Spanish, Japanese, and, of course, a coffee shop. The interior is spacious with large windows flooding the concrete floors with light. Although only in their infant stages, crowds have already been seeking them out, where both on the weekends and after business hours the Market comes to life. I have enjoyed stopping by here both with friends on a bike ride, or while walking with the Manhattan Sideways interns. On one occasion, the students tried the albondigas (lamb meatballs) from El Colmado, a Spanish eatery, and watched, enthusiastically, as the chef prepared the bone marrow brulee at Cannibal for us to sample and photograph. This dish was certainly a first for Maria and Lauren, and they marveled at how the plate was so beautifully presented with the bone marrow served in the bone on a long plate with two pieces of toast and some greens on the side. They were giggling as they scooped the bone marrow onto the bread and topped it with the lettuce. And as we get ready to launch 45th Street, Choza Taqueria is getting ready to open. In 2017, we were able to return to sample their tacos and tamales. Gotham West Market has made Hell's Kitchen a dining destination, offering something suitable for every palette and time of day. The Market offers Hell's Kitchen residents – especially those living right upstairs – a great place to come together and enjoy some of New York's notable cuisine.
For several years, Il Buco Vita was a second-floor showroom devoted to “the patient search for the colors, materials and objects that have made the Il Buco restaurant, below, so inviting. ” It was located in the space where Donna Leonard originally had an antique store, which then evolved into a place where food was served and friends gathered to share the meal and good conversation. The food-antique venture then split into two: A restaurant, Il Buco, and a home-ware showroom called Il Buco Vita upstairs. This showroom transformed into a representation of Donna’s lifestyle that came to fruition so wonderfully through her restaurant. Fast forward a few years to 2019 when Donna was able to move her business to street level on 2nd Street. Every item sold in Il Buco Vita is handmade — much of it from recycled materials. The space enhances the rustic, home furnishings and kitchen supplies that come directly from Italy, particularly the central Umbrian region. Il Buco Vita continues to introduce new products on a seasonal basis, including a handmade Italian black terra cotta line, made by depriving oxygen from the kiln at the end of firing. The shop works with quite a few Italian families, including a brother and sister who are the children of a master glassblower and have carried on their father’s legacy. While visiting, one day, I had the pleasure of meeting artist Antonello Radi, who painted many of the works I saw displayed on the wall, adding to the feeling that I had stepped into an Italian home. In addition to having customers who stretch across the country, Donna was pleased to tell us that there are numerous Manhattan apartments decorated in the Italian style, with several who live in the neighborhood and have “fully furnished” their homes using Il Buco Vita.
Through a large window, I noticed a group of people in white aprons chopping, stirring, and measuring. When I looked at the sign, I realized that I had discovered a west side location of a favorite kitchen shop, Sur La Table - and what was going on inside was a cooking class. In speaking with Nathan, the district manager, I learned that the company offers one of the largest amateur culinary programs in the country. Their classes set it apart from other kitchenware stores. They are open to anyone, from beginners to advanced chefs, and during the summer there are also options for children and teens. Nathan went on to tell me that the nationwide chain aims to cultivate "a sense of fun and discovery. " The first Sur La Table opened in 1972 in Seattle and today there are more than 100 stores around the country. Each one has well-trained staff, who I learned are experts in any variety of subjects. I had a lengthy conversation with a member whose expertise was kitchen knives. He was able to demonstrate several of them for me and then recommended that I try cutting a sweet potato while he educated me on the proper technique to use.
MTC (Mutual Trading Company) originally began in 1926 as a small co-op of Japanese immigrants in Southern California that centralized the import of basic Japanese foods for their community. Since then, they have grown into a premiere importer, manufacturer and distributor of over 5, 000 Japanese foods, beverages, and supplies. When walking into MTC Kitchen, the first thing that caught my eye was the row of hanging knives - apparently a specialty of the company. Known for its first-rate Japanese kitchen equipment, MTC Kitchen has catered to the New York City area restaurants since 1972. They opened this showroom in 2009. A respect for the Japanese traditions is apparent from the brightly lit showroom that holds every tool an aspiring chef might need to create the finest cuisine. From the chef's slippers to a hangiri, a flat-bottomed wooden tub used to make sushi rice, one can find everything on MTC'S chrome-wire shelves. The juxtaposition of the modern finish and futuristic-looking supplies with the traditional sake sets and chef's garb encapsulates their long history and the reason for their continued success.
When asked what cake means to her, Lisa Mansour did not hesitate for a second: “Cake is happiness! ” she exclaimed. An award-winning cake decorator and owner of NY Cake, Lisa has had a hand in shaping the baking industry, from judging competitions to creating new and innovative product lines. In addition, Lisa has been inducted into The Wilton Method Instructor Hall of Fame and has won several awards from the Societé Culinaire Philanthropique. Besides her own hard work and determination, Lisa attributes her many accomplishments to a long family tradition of dessert-loving. Her grandmother was a chocolatier and her mother, Joan, a cake decorator, who opened The Chocolate Gallery in the ’80s. In 1989, Lisa and Joan grew The Chocolate Gallery into a store and school that focused purely on cake decorating. Then, in 1992, the duo opened NY Cake & Baking Supply on West 22nd Street. The business boomed, and, in October 2018, moved into a new, larger space just down the street from their old location. NY Cake is a baker’s paradise. The new location includes a commercial kitchen, a café where customers can purchase baked goods and coffee, and an expanded school. And, of course, there is the sprawling retail section that first put NY Cake on the map. Here, one can buy every baking supply imaginable and then some: cake and pie pans in multiple shapes and sizes, cupcake wrappers, chocolate molds, cookie cutters, food coloring, rolling pins, and hundreds and hundreds of other items. It is overwhelming in the best sense, stacked ceiling high with everything needed to create that special dessert. The idea, according to Lisa, was to provide something for every sweet tooth. “If you like to bake yourself, you can get your supplies in the back. If you wanna learn how to do it, you can come and take a class. Or, if you have no desire to bake, you can just come in, sit, have a coffee and have a treat. ”The expansion has been stressful, to be sure (“I’ve never worked so hard, ” Lisa confessed), but the challenge is what makes it so exciting for her. With the extra space, they have been able to grow the NY Cake line of specialty baking products–designed to help bakers execute intricate cake designs, such as a Chanle-esque quilted bag–and have started selling a series of blinged-out cake stands that are sure to jazz up any dessert table. The larger school can accommodate twice as many students, and the industrial kitchen has allowed them to actually sell cakes, rather than just helping people make them. “It’s so fulfilling for me to teach, to take an order, ” Lisa said, “It makes me happy. ”In addition to professional customers from bakeries, wholesalers, and restaurants, NY Cake has carved out a market among amateur baking enthusiasts and counts many Chelsea and Flatiron locals among its regulars. That sense of community loyalty goes both ways: From baking competitions and events to the cake-pop class Lisa volunteered to teach at a center for the blind on 23rd Street, NY Cake is a true neighbor. This might stem in part from the fact that the store is as much family as business. Three generations of Mansours work at NY Cake (I met Lisa’s nephew, sister and mother during our interview), and even those who are not blood-related are part of their big, happy “cake family. ”
For someone like myself who loves to cook and whose adrenaline rises when I enter any kind of kitchen place, one can understand my enthusiasm when I walked into this restaurant supply shop. I loved browsing the short aisles that had pots and pans, all kinds of cooking utensils, copper bowls and dishes piled high to the ceiling. The best part, though, was discovering several items that I had not encountered before and so many others that I would have been thrilled to have taken home. Broadway Restaurant Supply was on East 17th Street near Union Square --- I, initially, thought that they had gone out of business, but was pleased to discover that they had not, in fact, closed, just had moved and changed their name to Manhattan Kitchen Supply. The owner explained that he could not afford the rent anymore on 17th, but is now happily situated on West 26th Street. Although primarily patronized by professionals, I believe that anyone wandering in will be amazed, and possibly enticed by the massive sizes of cookware and the diversity of products.