“We’re doing something kind of ludicrous”
Jessica Maher says from the center of her freshly minted cooking supply store, Métier, just three days into its opening. Balancing two-month-old Remy on her hip, she goes on to explain: “We’re taking a vacation.”
Anyone who’s visited one of Maher’s establishments would probably agree that a few days off have been well-earned. She’s heading to Maine for a week with her husband, fellow chef Todd Duplechan, who’s not only co-owner of Métier (a French word meaning specialty or trade) but also of their intimate Bouldin Creek eatery, Lenoir, next door.
There, as many Austinites know, he also serves as the chef and she, as the pastry chef. As we chat with Maher, Todd hums around the shop, engaging with the construction workers and business associates who float in and out. This, she says, will be Remy’s first trip with his big brother, Hollis, who’s three.
There’s no worry about holding down the fort while they’re gone, though; they’ve entrusted a colleague to run the shop while they’re away, Maher explains, and Lenoir will serve as a place for Salt & Time’s Caroline Hahm to serve up four-course Korean dinners for a couple of nights. Buzz and foot traffic are already high for the shop, thanks in part to the enthusiasm of patrons who love Lenoir and have been anticipating Métier‘s opening for some time.
Caroline Hahm has served up four-course Korean pop-up dinners at Lenoir. photo: Leah Overstreet
Lenoir photo: Leah Overstreet
Korean pop-up dinner photo: Leah Overstreet
Korean pop-up dinner photo: Leah Overstreet
Maher and Duplechan opened Lenoir in 2012 much to the delight of South Austin foodies desirous of a new date night gem within walking or biking distance. Keeping an eye on the vintage clothing shop next door, Maher says, “The landlord owns both places, so we’d asked her if it ever did become available that she consider us first.”
Over time, the store departed the converted 1930s house and Métier came together this year with the help of designer Chris McCray. After tearing out the sheetrock and revealing great bones, the renovation process was straightforward: “All we did was paint it white and then clean up the ceilings,” she says, “and this is probably very close to what it used to feel like when it was first built.”
Using local apple crates for storage and vintage furniture from Todd’s mother, their choice of materials serves a dual purpose in the airy, open space: it feels homey and inviting without having cost a ton of money to decorate, leaving more budget for a rather impressive inventory.
We want it to be accessible. We want people to buy things; it’s not a showpiece.
That inventory includes, among many other things, pastry-making notions galore, new and vintage cookbooks and cooking magazines from around the world, and perfectly-preserved antique pots and pans. And then… then there are the knives.
“We just put in a second really big order of knives,” she says, since quite a few sold right off the bat on opening day. “The Misono handmade knives – the knives that we love – are not currently represented in Austin (until now).”
Their choice to carry the series now gives local cooks a break from the typical experience of having to order them online, similar to other coveted tools of the trade, like the pastry ring molds Maher loves. They’ve made a point of offering some of their favorite things in the flesh, she says, so that they can be purchased in person by professional chefs and cooking enthusiasts alike without a wait.
You'll find a mix of new and vintage cookbooks (and magazines) on display at Métier.
Métier carries cooking and pastry making notions for the ambitious home cook.
Beautifully preserved antique and vintage cookware and supplies fill the shelves
Métier carries handmade Misono knives that haven't been available in Austin until now.
Adding to the allure are plans to bring in chefs, mixologists and the like for special events, which will take place in both the store and the restaurant next door. Bartending expert and The Bar Book author Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Portland is already confirmed for a visit, and plans are in the works for additional in-store events, paired with meals at Lenoir, with luminaries whom the couple adore.
Of the shop’s utility, Maher explains, “We want it to be accessible. We want people to buy things; it’s not a showpiece.”
And buy they will, even with Maher and Duplechan out of state for a few days. It’s not surprising that everything will fall into place while they’re on their family holiday; thanks to their dogged dedication to craftsmanship, love of community and open embrace of controlled chaos, things just seem to have a way of coming together.
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