Valeda Carmichael, owner of Culin-Arts at 404 S. 11th St., has landed in Oxford, bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge with her. Culin-Arts has an array of gifts for yourself and others, such as cookware, jewelry, furniture and more.
HottyToddy.com was in her store this week, admiring the versatile inventory and discussing her future plans.
HottyToddy.com: To start off with Valeda, tell us about yourself.
Valeda Carmichael: I am a native of Mississippi having lived previously in Newton, Hattiesburg, Jackson and West Point. Twelve years ago I opened Culin-Arts in West Point. I graduated from Mississippi University for Women and have taken numerous continuing education courses at the Culinary Institute of America at both their campuses in Hyde Park, New York as well as in Napa Valley.
HottyToddy.com: How can you best describe your business and inventory to future customers?
Carmichael: Our theme at Culin-Arts is anything to do with cooking and entertaining. Our inventory is comprehensive including items such as cookware; knives; utensils; bakeware; linens; barware; tailgating; unique serving utensils; pottery; artwork featuring Mississippi artists; and outdoor patio furniture just to highlight a few items.
HottyToddy.com: What are your hours of operation?
Carmichael: We’re closed on Mondays, but open the other five days. Tuesday through Saturday we’re open 9:30 till 5:30. Regarding Sundays we’ll be open in the afternoons on game and holiday weekends. May also open on Mondays for the month of December.
HottyToddy.com: Your résumé is quite impressive!
Carmichael: Cooking and entertaining are my “passion” as I have devoted much of my life perfecting and enhancing this love. I worked at Bryan Foods for 16 years in the test kitchens and also with food service and national restaurant accounts. The test kitchen involved recipe development, product testing and food styling for photo shoots. I also was charged with coming up with new menu ideas for our national restaurant accounts and trained people to work in retail grocery delis. In addition, I free lanced for Sara Lee Corporation and was the Director of Food and Beverage for McAllister’s Corp. I also was a culinary consultant to the “W” and have been catering (in my spare time) since 1982.
HottyToddy.com: With that background it’s easy to understand why Culin-Arts has been successful.
Carmichael: When something is your Passion, you’ll make it successfuI. Being a cook and caterer — I know the items one needs, but are sometimes hard to find. I try to source the best quality items I can find. I also know that when entertaining, one needs “pretty” serving pieces! I love my “pretties” in the shop!!
HottyToddy.com: Was the decision to move Culin-Arts to Oxford a difficult one?
Carmichael: Yes, gut wrenching as I have lived in West Point over half my life. I own the buildings my shop was in there and left behind friends, a wonderful kitchen, herb garden, and espresso machine. The timing, though, was ideal for me personally and professionally. The economy in Oxford is outstanding. This was truly “meant to be.” Who knows where and how far this business will go.
HottyToddy.com: Getting back to your customers/clients, what do you want their experience to be after shopping with you and visiting Culin-Arts?
Carmichael: Culin-Arts has 9 display rooms featuring an array of colorful merchandise that has been described as “eye candy.” The quality and “mix” of the merchandise is quite unique. We have items ranging from marble Lazy Susan’s to French Presses to linens and many different specialty items for the home and kitchen.
HottyToddy.com: Describe your typical customer for us.
Carmichael: That’s hard to do as both men and women frequent my shop. Anyone who enjoys cooking, entertaining or has an appreciation for art in general would be pleasantly surprised as to all we have to offer. I carry items not only for the home, but also for dorm rooms, weekend condos and even sorority houses.
HottyToddy.com: You have referred to art several times. Who are some of the artists that you feature?
Carmichael: Pat Gavin Pottery (has shown in the Ohr‑O’Keefe Museum Of Art); Weldon Merchant jewelry (has a necklace in the Smithsonian); and Lee Gibson oil paintings (Galleries: Memphis; Seaside, FL; Madison, MS; other MS venues such as Culin-Arts Oxford).
HottyToddy.com: What are your hobbies and outside interests?
Carmichael: Cooking is definitely number one, though I don’t have time anymore! I enjoy traveling having been to all 48 states of the continental United States and overseas. I love canines and currently have a Blue and Red Healer (SweetPea and Girdy). I love working in my yard and making things “pretty,” inside and out.
HottyToddy.com: Did we not cover anything?
Carmichael: We also offer bridal registry and gift certificates. We’re not the typical kitchen shop!
This intense (very serious) young lady about her passion for all things cooking will be a tremendous asset to this community which emphasizes “never ending partying.” And I almost forgot to mention that Valeda actually authored the curriculum that went before the State College Board and worked with the architect in designing the kitchens for the Culinary Arts Institute at Mississippi University for Women way back in 1996. If you want to have a most enjoyable (as well as educational) experience, include Culin-Arts in your next shopping trip to the Oxford Square!
Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor who covers Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. In addition, he is a certified economic and community developer and currently, a highly successful leader in the real estate business with Premier Properties of Oxford. You can contact Steve at email@example.com or call (985) 852-7745.