It's hard to believe we're over fifteen years old! Berkshire Cottage was founded in 1991 in Lenox, Massachusetts as a source for "Distinctive Cooking and Dining Ware for the Country Chef." Unfortunately, we didn't find many "Country Chefs" who wanted our "Distinctive Cooking and Dining Ware" in Lenox, so after three very cold and lonely Berkshire winters, in 1994 the store was moved south (about 15 miles!) to the warmer climate of Gt. Barrington.
There things began to heat up. I'll never forget the thrill when we opened the store and actual human beings came and bought things in the slowest season of the year, no less! We changed the focus to a comprehensive assortment of kitchen equipment including gadgets, appliances, cookware and bakeware, and redubbed ourselves, "Berkshire Cottage Kitchen, The Chef's Choice."
To make things really interesting, a demonstration kitchen was added so we could present live cooking classes featuring local and nationally known chefs and "foodies." Everybody (including us) seemed to have a much better time using the great equipment to make delicious things, rather than just staring at all of it on a pretty shelf. Our cooking class series continues to this day, and you can find the schedule of upcoming classes here on our website.
After a few ill-conceived forays into the fascinating world of shopping mall retailing, we regained our sanity (if not our life's savings) and refocused on the great Great Barrington store. By the way, the name was officially changed to The Chef's Shop when we opened the mall stores, confusing our loyal and casual customers alike for years to follow. In October of 2000, the first satellite Chef's Shop was opened at Guido's Fresh Marketplace in Gt. Barrington, followed the next April by another satellite at Guido's in Pittsfield. Our worldwide expansion continued one hot Monday in July with the establishment of Katie's and Robbie's Lemonade Stand on the sidewalk outside the store. In just a few short hours the kids were able to surpass the profit performance achieved by our mall stores over four very long years!
Then, in June of 2002 we had the opportunity to move the store to a larger and better location in the former Gans building on Railroad Street in Gt. Barrington. Little did we know how much of a change moving just around the corner would make! With a better layout, a BEAUTIFUL space (free of any sort of internal precipitation!) and room to add more products and departments the business really took off.
In just two short years we were again jammed to the rafters with more inventory in every department than we could possibly do justice to in just 3000 square feet on the first floor, so we decided to renovate the second floor. Upstairs you will now find a stunning collection of rustic kitchen and dining room furniture, as well as all the home decor like area rugs, framed art and posters, and decorative accessories you will ever need to make your Berkshire Cottage a true home.
Today, The Chef's Shop is alive and well and focused on bringing our friends the very best selection of quality cooking equipment anywhere. We guarantee that our everyday prices are at or below the advertised prices of any competitor - even their "Sale" prices. And we add a year to the warranty of any product you buy from us. The staff (unlike the cranky owner) strive to be very friendly and helpful, and you can always just give us a call or drop us an e-mail if there is anything we can do to make your cooking experience more enjoyable.
So what's not to like? I hope you enjoy our website and that it makes ordering more convenient. We'll happily gift wrap your order if you request it, and we'll ship it immediately. Many of you have asked us for a website to facilitate bridal and gift registry purchases, and we have included that function here as well. But don't forget to stop in whenever you are in town; there's a great deal more selection on the shelves here in the store. And convenient as it is, the web will never replace the fun of cooking classes, live demonstrations, and tasting experiences, not to mention the sparkling personalities of our always-ready-to-help staff: Pennie Wood, Denise Gustafson, Samantha DeWitt, Eva Shuster, Erica Pivero, Anne Peck, Katie and Robbie Navarino, and their father, the cranky owner.
Thank you all for supporting The Chef's Shop through its first decade-and-a-half, from the bottom of my heart.
Very truly yours,