Last December, amidst the holiday shopping frenzy Jim Henkens and his wife Jennifer quietly opened the doors at Marine Area 7, a cooking shop dedicated to the art of imperfection in the kitchen. Henkens, a longtime food and lifestyle photographer, had amassed a large collection of vintage cookware and kitchen tools, and his dream to launch a storefront came to fruition when a space came available in Madison Valley.
It wasn’t long before the shop’s refurbished cast-iron pans and stunning vintage cookware started appearing on social media feeds—and now, on our blog.
ShopTalk: Where does the name come from?
Jim Henkens: Washington has 13 marine areas and the San Juans are number seven. We actually have a house on Lummi Island and we’re always out crabbing and shrimping during the summertime. You have to write down where you’re snagging the crab and shrimp on your catch cards, so we are constantly writing down “Marine Area 7.” One day while we were out (crabbing) we started to talk about the name as we were both jotting “Marine Area 7”; we looked at each other and that became the name, it was a no-brainer.
What inspired the store?
Basically I have a background in food photography—well food and lifestyle. I’ve been doing that for 25 years and I’ve amassed a pretty large collection of vintage kitchen props for my work. I need to keep acquiring new things because I can’t keep using the same props over and over. So my wife and I have always had this dream of opening a little store selling vintage kitchen items.
For the store, we decided to expand on the vintage idea to include a curated selection of new items as well. I love to cook, and the new pieces in store are more or less my favorite things. I don’t have an allegiance to a part of the world or a particular place, so I carry carbon steel pans from France, Japanese clay steamers, Moroccan tagines, etc.
Have you done photography for any local cookbooks recently?
The most recent cookbook that came out was A Boat, A Whale, and A Walrus by Renee Erickson. I teamed up with her and Jess Thomson, the writer, and we spent a year working on that project. I also did the photographs for Delaurenti Cookbook and I photographed a book called Grow, Cook, Eat by Willi Galloway who is a master gardener.
What song or album is playing on your store’s sound system now?
It is the Keith Jarrett Trio, Inside Out. I like jazz.
What was your first job and how does it compare to your job now?
As an adult, I was scooping ice cream at Häagen-Dazs down at Pike Place Market. The customer interaction part is similar but the creativity aspect is not. It did teach me a lot about customer service, though.
What is your favorite thing in the store right now?
I would say all of the clay cookware. I have the Colombian, Japanese, and Moroccan clay cookware and you can use them all on the stove or in the oven, and I think the food just tastes great when it’s cooked in clay.
Where do you shop when you’re not at Marine Area 7?
Most commonly, Pike Place Market. I try to shop there at least once a week. I go to Don and Joe’s Meats, it feels more like European-style shopping and I know a lot of vendors down there.
What do you love about your store’s neighborhood?
It’s a lot of small boutiques, so it feels like a neighborhood. I actually know all of the other shopkeepers and restaurant people, many of them have been here for a long time.
Do you have any restaurants or coffee shops in your neighborhood that you’d recommend?
I love going to Bar Cantinetta. I went there last night. Great, simple Italian food in a really nice atmosphere. I go to Luc once in a while. And for coffee, Madison Kitchens is my go-to.
Any plans for events or functions?
Yes, absolutely, that’s a huge part of the plan. There’s a 300 square foot room in the back of the store (it’s my office now) and the plan is to put a functioning kitchen there and create a food photography studio. The goal is to have guest chefs come for demonstrations, classes, even food photography seminars. The ideas are wide open and we’ll probably get it focused in the next few months.