By Kathleen Swift • Photos by Kaitlin Felder

Traci Cliffman has always had a passion for cooking. “Some of my best memories are being in the kitchen, cooking and sitting around the table with family.”

So, it made perfect sense when Traci was ready for a career change, she funneled her passion for cooking into a new business and opened Kitchen Essentials in Nevada, Missouri. At first, it took the entire family to make the new business run smoothly.

“I was still teaching when we first opened Kitchen Essentials,” said Traci. “My husband, Greg, farms and helped with maintenance, and our son and daughter worked in the store when I couldn’t be there. If it hadn’t been for them and my mom, I couldn’t have done this.”

As a truly family-oriented, cook-friendly store, “our aim at Kitchen Essentials is to bring families together through cooking and sharing around the table. We want to see the tradition of cooking good food at home carried on,” said Traci. “I don’t usually follow a given recipe when I cook. I like to create as I go and try new things. It’s always a bit of trial and error to see what I might create.”

To that end, Traci loves to recommend kitchen tools and gadgets she has found helpful in her own cooking.

“My favorite tool is the ChopStir,” said Traci. “It’s a great tool for breaking up hamburger as it is cooking. We recommend the ChopStir to new brides, those who are just getting into cooking or experienced cooks. I like carrying gadgets like the avocado keeper and the garlic peeler and other items that customers like and can use.”

Wedding registries are offered at Kitchen Essentials. Employees guide the happy couple through the store explaining what tools are available and making suggestions based on the needs of the couple.

“Once the selections are made,” said Traci, “we set up a table with the items the couple has chosen, and friends and family wanting to give a gift can come in and select an item from the table. We also list the items and prices online so people can call and order a gift from the registry.”

Kitchen Essentials will also put together gift baskets for Valentine’s or other special occasions for customers’ shopping convenience.

In addition to kitchen gadgets, Kitchen Essentials carries Fiesta Ware in what they refer to as their wall of color. The brightly colored plates and serving dishes are timeless in style and work well for both casual and more formal dinner settings.

You’ll find a line of spices and dips along with private label gourmet foods such as candied jalapenos, salsas and jellies. Don’t forget to look for the line of Rada knives and Ballirini cookware. Kitchen Essentials carries teas from Republic of Tea as well as fresh coffee beans. They carry linens and farmhouse décor, as well, to round out the cooking experience.

Recently, Kitchen Essentials has added cooking classes to support home cooks.

“Our first class was cookie decorating,” said Traci. “We offered four classes this fall, and we are looking to add some new classes this spring. You can follow us on Facebook to find out what we will be offering.”

You will find Kitchen Essentials at 131 E. Walnut in Nevada, Missouri, at, and on Facebook. They are open to help you find just the right items for your kitchen Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5:30 pm and on Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm.