Our Story



Our Story

In 1973, Martha Kaemmer and her sister Mary Rice thought that the time was ripe for a culinary awakening. Cooks was born in a 1,500-square-foot storefront at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Lexington Parkway, in St. Paul. There were four employees and approximately 250 different items for sale. Mary left a year later to pursue a new culinary journey in Bayfield, WI. Martha carried the company forward for more than 30 years.

We’ve moved twice. Added 4 more locations – closed two. We had 15 shops inside Marshall Fields (Dayton’s) – we gave them up when Macy’s took over. We’ve grown – we’ve contracted. Like all small businesses we’ve been on an interesting adventure.

Currently, we have three locations all with state-of-the-art cooking schools. Our experiences are second to none, we have a growing presence on the web and we are constantly working to improve our offering.

We employ 65 people and our schools rely on the services of another 50. Our inventory has grown to include more than 6,000 innovative culinary items. We offer a huge assortment of instruction and educational opportunities and we’re always trying to help people with their culinary journey. Though she remained an active member of our Board, Martha retired in December of 2007. She passed away in 2018, and we miss her warm and embracing spirit every single day. We remain committed to her desire for Cooks’ to be a welcoming place for sharing discoveries about food.

So, that’s where we are today, 5 kids, a big standard poodle, a large extended “family” and one well used kitchen. Sharing discoveries at every turn. We don’t just say that “Life happens in the Kitchen” – we live it.
- Karl and Marie