“We believe in home cooks.” That’s the message visitors find on the Red Stick Spice Company’s website, prominently displayed on the homepage in all caps. It’s also the message they hear from its owner, Anne Milneck, a trained chef, host of the cooking podcast Smidgen, and true believer that home cooking is “key to happiness and health.”
Problem is, the Louisiana native says, too many people these days just don’t do it. Either they’re intimidated by the process, don’t think they have enough time to cook or just feel too overwhelmed to add something else to their to-learn list. So, several years ago, Anne and her team set out to change that, offering cooking classes at her popular Baton Rouge shop, which sells gourmet spices, oils, extracts and other culinary specialties.
“We wanted to change the language around cooking from ‘this is hard, this is going to take too long, there are too many ingredients, or I don’t have the ingredients’ to ‘this is all doable,” Anne says.
Her cooking classes were a hit. Even just equipped with a handful of portable burners in a small section of the shop, Red Stick was filling up classes four nights a week teaching simple dinners and basic techniques people could easily replicate at home. When it came time to expand and build a proper teaching kitchen, it’s no surprise that Anne wanted to create a space that mirrored a real home kitchen. No commercial pots and pans, no salamanders (roasting ovens for quickly browning dishes like crème brulee), no talk of BTUs or “$20 words that chefs use,” she says. Just a quality set of high-end residential appliances that would cook great without alienating their students.
Monogram Appliances fit the bill perfectly.
“When I got to know Monogram, I thought ‘this is the right decision,’” says Anne. Not only are the appliances functional, she says, but Monogram shares Anne’s passion for inspiring and enabling home cooks and consistently educates customers on how to use their products.
“That’s a game changer when you have someone teach you how to use their appliance,” says Anne, recalling when Monogram Executive Chef Jon Liddell gave her a tip on using the convection setting for just about anything. “That’s what’s so awesome with Monogram. To have a large company offer the support that they do is huge.”
Also huge: how impeccably the appliances work, and how accessible and approachable they are to students. Red Stick installed four Monogram professional ranges around a large central island in the new teaching kitchen, each with a spacious oven that has allowed Anne to add baking to her class offerings. The range top is a hit with customers “because of the way the burners are so specific in terms of high, low, simmer,” Anne says. “Ninety percent of a chef’s job is managing heat. With this range, managing heat is so easy because the settings are so precise.”
Also helping Anne teach about heat is the Monogram Hearth Oven, the multi-use wall oven that is far more than a pizza oven. Red Stick shows students how to quickly make au gratins, roast vegetables, create gooey skillet quesos, brown sous vide meats, flash sear south Louisiana’s signature blackened fish in about four minutes,].
“When you stop saying pizza oven and start thinking of it as this heat delivery monster, the possibilities are endless,” Anne says.
With themes like Simple Sunday Suppers, Taco Tuesday, and My Big Fat Greek Cooking Class, Red Stick has helped hundreds of people get comfortable cooking at home more often. And it helps to do that with appliances that are both chef-approved and easy-to-use for the everyday cook.
“They’re lovely to look at and work beautifully,” Anne says. “It’s everything we need.”