Cookware Curator. Diligent Dough Maker. Fantastic Photographer. Spend a fog-filled morning playing fetch on Lake Washington with jack-of-all-trades, Jim Henkens.
“These types of mornings are rare. We got a good one.”
Jim Henkens stands ankle deep in the still water of Lake Washington, tossing a rubber ball for his dog, Sage. On each attempt, Sage swims farther out, and then returns to Jim’s feet, breathing heavily. A rolling fog moves around us in patches and when the sun breaks through, we’re given a momentary glimpse of the snowy peaks of Mount Rainer in the distance. “These types of mornings are rare,” Jim says. “We got a good one.”
Henkens is a photographer by trade. He began in fashion – living and working for a year in Italy – but the industry, he says, wasn’t for him. His real passion was food. When he started shooting cookbooks, the culinary-related jobs came rolling in. (His most recent project, A Boat, A Whale & A Walrus, took him all over France with friend and local superstar chef, Renee Erickson.) Last year, he and his wife opened Marine Area 7 – a kitchen goods store in the South Seattle neighborhood of Madison Valley. The store has honed Jim’s aesthetic talents (he has a killer eye for both vintage and contemporary finds), but it has also given him a venue to geek out on cooking with a steady stream of would-be customers.
Breakfast in the Henkens household is a casual, but serious affair. There is hand grinding of coffee beans (“I really hate the sound of electric grinders,” Jim says), there is homemade bread, a thick slab of butter, and perfectly executed eggs. Jim sets up his spread on the kitchen island (“this is how we eat usually,” he says. “We make a bunch of food and everyone comes and loads up here.”) Sage naps contently by the baseboard. After eating, Jim “feeds” his starter – the living, fermenting concoction that serves as the base for Jim’s fresh sourdough loaves – 3 cups each of white and wheat flour, and water. “You can always tell if a house makes bread, because there’ll be little bits of dried flour everywhere.” He laughs.
Jim wiggles his index and middle fingers in a walking motion and Sage springs to life. It’s time for the morning jaunt. Jim puts on a pair of high rubber boots and a waxed canvas jacket. As we duck out the back door and traipse the bend towards Martha Washington Park, the fog and foliage lend the scene a very English feel. “We’re usually the only people out here in the morning,” Jim says as he walks through the mud. Across the quiet lake loom the large houses of Mercer Island. A boathouse with a single spotlight juts out, uncontended, into the still water. Jim and Sage play fetch for 15 minutes and then we head back towards the house.
A loop around the lake finds us at Marine Area 7 – which Jim and his wife named for the waters around the San Juan Islands where they have a home. “We thought this could be the urban outpost of our hosting aspirations,” he says. “Our goal is to throw gatherings here, chefs dinners, events…” The store itself is artfully curated – vintage Japanese steamers, local preserves, honey, wine, refurbished French chef’s knives, organic linens. “It’s a store for people who love to cook,” Jim says. “You don’t feel like you’re discovering anything in [those] big box kitchen stores anymore. Nothing feels exciting or new.”
“It’s a store for people who love to cook.”
Jim lights a Byredo candle (Candy Darling), and trims a vase of lilies with scissors. As we tour the rooms, Jim shows us his plans for a kitchen in the rear of the space, which he plans to build himself. “Maybe I’ll open this area up and build bigger windows – light, of course, is key.” He shakes his head. “When you’re self-employed, you’re never sure exactly what your check will be, so it’ll all happen when it happens.” His phone vibrates. A text. “Ah! I just sold two vintage rice cookers.” No turning back now.