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Kitchen Arts and Letters, Inc.
A cookbook store on the UES- harness your inner Martha Stewart!

By Julie Worthington, Reporter

Matt Sartwell, the managing partner of Kitchen Arts and Letters, Inc., has had a long history with food in NYC. From restaurants to kitchens and other culinary endeavors, he has now found success as a managing partner at KAAL, a 38-year-old store located on the Upper East Side.

The store's history begins with Nach Waxman, the now-deceased founder. Waxman, who worked as an editor, decided to become his own boss. With a passion for both sports and food, he chose to open his own cookbook shop. New York City was his chosen location because he believed the Big Apple would provide better support for his business compared to other cities, as stated by Sartwell.

According to Sartwell, people come to KAAL for several significant reasons. They can find books here that are not available at mainstream retailers like Target, Barnes & Noble, and Costco. KAAL specializes in uncommon and unusual books. For instance, they have a magazine called Nez imported from Paris. In French, "nez" means nose, and the magazine focuses on the fragrances of French food, as explained by Sartwell.

The store also features a cookbook by a private cook from Yemen, showcasing her Middle Eastern recipes accompanied by pictures. Both public and private chefs attempt to sell their cookbooks at KAAL.

"We also import books from restaurants and countries like Spain, Italy, and Mexico," Sartwell added.


Prices of the cookbooks range in price from, on average, $18-$40.


"Sometimes they can go beyond that to $100, $200 or $500," Sartwell said.


"We recently sold a vintage book that was 200 years old," he added. "It was published in 1815 in London by a guy that was a chef to members of the Royal Family."


Sartwell believes that giving back to the community is crucial to this store's livelihood.


"We have a clean-out sale and donate half the money to The Edible SchoolYard Project," he said. This charity partners with public schools to improve the eating habits of young New Yorkers, according to the non-profit's website.


As far as their customers, Sartwell has all good things to say. "People here are really nice. We have gotten to know them and they are really good to us."


Food lovers come from all of over the world to visit KAAL, Sartwell said.


"We had a woman historian that had been studying in Australia come to meet her thesis advisor here (in this store)," Sartwell said.


Sartwell hopes the store continues to thrive, and welcomes you to come in and browse for a recipe or two. Their location is 1435 Lexington Ave. The store hours are 10-6 everyday and closed on Sundays. The phone  number is 212-876-5550. Bon Appetit!

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