How “New Domesticity” is revitalizing our cooking culture

“WE’RE ALL BAKING BROWNIES AGAIN.” In the popular book Homeward Bound, author Emily Matchar writes about “new domesticity”—our longing for the old-fashioned, the homemade, the authentic.

Nowhere is it more prevalent than in our food culture, which often leads to more time in the kitchen (for both genders). “The motivations behind New Domesticity are varied: an interest in self sustainability; concern for the environment; the desire to remain connected to older generations,” Matchar writes.

“But the common thread seems to be this: my generation—those of us in our twenties and thirties—is longing for a more authentic, meaningful life in an economically and environmentally uncertain world.”

We think this “new domesticity” trend also is attracting baby boomers who have been rattled by the Great Recession, leading to some self-discovery. Rounding out our region’s demographics is our robust retiree population, an “in the kitchen” generation to begin with.

This all adds up to a resurgence in home-cooking and homesteading, both regionally and nationally.
Kitchen retailers, chefs, food authors, food catalogs, TV food networks and magazines are all working harder to make us better cooks—but with a modern-day approach.

Technology is a catalyst: The internet has spurred a cottage industry of food bloggers and YouTube chefs; stands are being sold to display your iPad in the kitchen, so you can watch cooking videos, search for recipes, even video chat.

Our region is well situated for the “new domesticity” surge because of the abundant fresh local produce. Foothill Farmers Market co-founder Joanne Neft and chef Laura Kenny have written two cookbooks dedicated to PlacerGROWN food sold locally.

In Truckee, Stella restaurant Chef Jacob Burton, 29, is a popular YouTube chef who has created his own online culinary cooking school.

Newcastle Produce, Tess’ Kitchen Store in Grass Valley and the BriarPatch, among others, offer top-notch cooking classes, with teachers trained at the nation’s finest cooking schools.

BriarPatch Co-op just leased the space at In The Kitchen Cooking School in Nevada City to expand its cooking classes.

Our region’s kitchen store retailers offer a “big-city” selection with friendly, small-town customer service, including Tess’ and the Wooden Spoon in Grass Valley, as well as the Cooking Gallery in Truckee. They are locally owned and operated too.

In the foothills, Tess’ Kitchen Store in Grass Valley has become a regional hub to make you a better cook.

It’s an entertaining and educational destination for locals and visitors—on the main drag of the historic downtown that is home to Cornish Christmas.

Tess’ is the largest store of its kind in the region, with 6,200 square-feet in a striking three-story structure. It has every imaginable kitchen item: bakeware, cookware, cutlery, kitchen electronics, sauces, marinades, an olive oil bar, gadgets and more.

The staff is knowledgeable and friendly, whether directing you to a Microplane, a juicer or the latest cookware.

Tess’ offers cooking classes in a new restaurant-quality kitchen built last year. The hands-on classes are small (limited to 14).

The classes are taught by resident chefs Roberta DesBouillons and Shanan Manuel. Both will help improve your cooking. We are experienced cooks but always learn something, thanks to their know-how.

Tess’ also has a wedding and gift registry. Gifts are available at every price range and include on-line access to the registry list and purchasing.
115 Mill St., Grass Valley

Newcastle Produce carries a wide range of sauces, marinades, olive oil, jams and more, including ones that are PlacerGROWN—all ideal for holiday shopping.

Their Mountain Mandarins, grown on their own farm with 150 trees, are delicious. They are available as early as mid-November. Mandarins from other local growers are offered as well.

Newcastle’s gourmet gift baskets—featuring sauces, dips, sweet snacks, mandarin products and more—are wonderful.

Owner Jan Thompson and her staff are extremely knowledgeable. Jan’s great, great grandfather farmed in Placer County, and their family continues the tradition.

Newcastle Produce’s cooking classes are taught by Chelsea Federwitz, chef, pastry artist and graduate from the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena.
9230 Cypress, Newcastle

The Wooden Spoon in Grass Valley has the web address,, and it’s a suitable name.

We found some cool holiday items. Example: A S’Mores maker with a steel grill, Sterno fuel, four forks and plate. It moves the camp-fire tradition indoors and would be a fun cooking activity for grandchildren who are visiting their grandparents.

The store carries a wide selection of juicers, including the Omega line. (Our Omega 8005 is a workhorse). It also has a gift registry.

The Wooden Spoon has been a favorite destination for cooks since 1980. It serves fresh-brewed coffee (in a Nespresso maker) while you browse.
2066 Nevada City Hwy., Grass Valley

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