Karen Walker loves to bake and whip up desserts. Husband and retired oil executive Mike Walker always dreamed of owning a hardware store. Looking for a business to purchase when the pair decided to move to Santa Fe in the late 1990s, what could have been a finer match than a small kitchenware shop called Las Cosas? They immediately started putting their own stamp on it, relocating it from a sleepy end of DeVargas Center to the north side mall’s center court, just down from the bustling Atrisco Café entrance. The Walkers quadrupled the space in the process.
Las Cosas Kitchen Shoppe & Cooking School offers the best combination of quality and value in kitchenware, tableware, barware, cutlery, and small appliances you’ll find in Northern New Mexico. There’s a small selection of specialty foods as well. The Walkers work hard to find items that don’t show up at the big box stores.
Vietri Tableware at Las Cosas
If you go in looking for a tart pan, a coffee grinder, or a potato peeler, you might also come out with cool cappuccino machine or, like me, a new piece of Italian or Portuguese dinnerware. They are the only area dealer of the always stunning Vietri Italian ceramics. I used to haul Vietri plates, mugs, serving bowls, you name it, back from each trip I made to Italy. Believe me, it’s a lot easier to pick up pieces at Las Cosas! I’m currently coveting a new pattern, Fiore di Campo, awash in a rainbow of hand-painted spring blossoms. The store will host an event with representatives from Vietri later this year, a great chance to add to your collection too.
Arte Italica and Skyros, a line of stoneware from Portugal, are other examples of tableware to beautify your table for Easter or Passover, or just a random Thursday dinner.
Le Creuset and Staub
If you’re looking for serious cookware that stands the test of time, Las Cosas has European brands like Le Creuset and Staub for enamel-coated cast-iron. I cook in my Le Creuset braiser practically every day. The ever-changing colors of both brands are half of the fun. If copper appeals, check out the chef-tested Ruffoni and Heston, lustrous lines at different price points. Copper reacts more quickly to heat than other metals, and its warm finish enhances any kitchen.
Demeyere Belgian Stainless Cookware
If you’re looking for workhorse stainless steel pans that will last the rest of your life, the Belgian Demeyere comes in both 5- and 7-ply lines. They are notable for their thermal conductivity and their proprietary finish, Silvinox, which is especially easy to clean. Also, the handles are welded, rather than riveted in place, making them especially durable. While pricey, the per-use cost of pans that last you three decades plus is much more cost effective than cheap models that get dumped in a landfill every few years.
Emile Henry and Cuisinart
I like the Emile Henry line of ceramic bakeware for pie plates and other ceramics, made since 1850 from clay in France’s Burgundy region, known for its sturdiness. The pieces have lovely shapes too. Speaking of lovely shapes, the Cuisinart stand mixers are positively sculptural and also rock a range of vibrant shades. When I asked Karen about new items for spring, she mentioned that she’s pleased about several new Zwilling appliances, their coffee maker, blender, and milk frother, in particular.
Cooking classes, both demonstration and hands-on, make up a wildly popular part of the store’s focus. Most are taught by the resident chef, the irrepressible John Vollertson, known to everyone in town as Chef Johnny Vee. The set-up is intimate, a dozen or so folks at stools around a counter in the midst of the store. If you ever simply wander in while a class is in session, you’ll immediately wish you too could be a part of the joyous atmosphere.
The class topics range broadly through all types of cuisines. A class on high-altitude cooking is offered frequently to frustrated cooks and bakers wrestling with the peculiarities of Santa Fe’s 7,500-foot perch in the southern Rockies.
Coming up soon are a couple of classes packed full of global flavors. On Friday evening, March 18, 2022, Chef Johnny’s presenting New Mexico Flavors in World Cuisine. The menu will include jalapeño shrimp potstickers, red chile chicken shawarma, Santa Fe-cured smoked salmon and blue corn blinis, and sopaipilla bread pudding with caramel sauce.
The following day, Saturday, March 19, 2022, the school welcomes guest chef Char Valdez offering Plant-Based International Cookery. Hungarian mushroom soup, crunchy quinoa salad, and carrot-ginger Buddha bowl are among the offerings. Call soon, though, if you want to reserve a space.
Whether you’re an experienced kitchen pro or don’t know the difference between spatchcocking and a spatula, the Walkers and Las Cosas have just “the things” for you!
Las Cosas Kitchen Shoppe and Cooking School
DeVargas Center, Paseo de Peralta at North Guadalupe, Santa Fe
Curbside pickup available
Story and photos by Cheryl Alters Jamison.
Four-time James Beard Foundation Book Award-winning author Cheryl Alters Jamison is the host of Heating It Up on KTRC and is now the “queen of culinary content” for SantaFe.com. Find new stories about the Santa Fe food scene each week on SantaFe.com.