The store, which opened late last year, is focused on community. While Bluecashew offers state-of-the-art cookware, drawing professional chefs, the store’s vibe is far from intimidating. Both shoppers and neighborhood residents often stop in for a chat, and McKay uses the kitchen during the day for impromptu cooking and baking. A display case near the entrance shows the work of area artists, and the store is arranged to invite casual perusal of the goods. The walls are lined with floor-to-ceiling shelving units, handmade from reclaimed materials, which are stocked with fine and often colorful dinnerware and crystal, top-quality cookware, culinary tools, handmade cutlery and cutting boards, linens, flatware, gourmet goodies, and a curated selection of elegant kitchen and dining room accoutrements.
From the back of the store, the kitchen space beckons. In the working end of the brick-walled room, an eight-burner Wolf stove-and-oven combo is set in a large island, around which customers can gather to watch and learn. Gleaming sculptural glass tiles cover one end of the island. High overhead, an industrial exhaust system with an exterior motor works in surprising silence. Opposite, a handcrafted fire-clay sink is situated between a wine cooler and a glass-fronted refrigerator—both of which are filled with provisions, including wine and nonalcoholic options. A glowing, copper-tiled backsplash and lighted display cabinets overhead compliment the dark soapstone countertops and charcoal-colored, suede-finished cabinetry throughout. The antique java-stained floor is made from fossilized bamboo, an extremely durable hardwood made with no toxic off-gassing chemicals.
The other half of the kitchen space remains open; a timber frame rack overhead is rigged for theatrical lighting and camera mounts from which to live-stream videos of events and classes on social media. Indirect sunlight fills the space from three original casement windows, reflecting off the crystal globes—keepsakes from McKay’s grandmother’s midcentury modern chandelier—that dangle over the island. And the collection of cooking utensils, pots, pans, and books lining the kitchen walls makes visitors feel right at home.
Which, in many different ways, they are. McKay and Nutley are focused on celebrating and partaking of the region’s homegrown bounty, offering classes and lectures not only by regional and national chefs and cookbook writers but also through organizations such as Hudson Valley Farm Hub, FarmOn, People’s Place, and the Cornell Cooperative Extension Office. “We’ve talked with Tim Hurley, president of the board of directors at People’s Place,” says McKay, “where they get veggies in that folks don’t know how to use. I say, ‘Let’s get them in here and educate them, or we can go there.’ Everybody is partnering with us in the most wonderful way.”