’Tis the Seasonings

January 2023 View more

By Kelli Ra Anderson

The Spice House opens shop in Naperville


The Spice House, 15 W. Jefferson Ave., Naperville
The Spice House, 15 W. Jefferson Ave., Naperville

Trying out something new and adventurous is the spice of life. It’s also one of the best ways to take your cooking to the next level. Whether you’re enhancing the familiar or exploring new culinary territory, finding fresh flavors just got a whole lot easier with the opening of the Spice House in downtown Naperville.

An award-winning resource of Michelin-star chefs and home cooks alike, the regional chain originated in 1957 in Chicago. As its name suggests, the Spice House (now with five locations in Illinois and Wisconsin) boasts an impressive collection of spices, extracts, herbs, and one-of-a-kind combos curated from around the world.

Spices on display at The Spice House

“Hands down, what absolutely makes us unique is the true quality and freshness of our small-batch spices and blends,” says Celeste Southard, district manager, referring to the freshly ground products that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Flatpacks, for example, are resealable pouches that are easier to use and store. Larger collections include gift sets assembled for the beginner, baker, or barbecue pitmaster, as well as cultural collections spanning the globe. “But it’s also about the overall experience,” Southard adds. “Everyone gets a great experience–the warmth of smells, interactions with the spice merchants, or customers interacting with each other, asking their questions, and sharing ideas.”

With its modern, neutral color palette and mix of warm, natural elements reminiscent of Old World markets, the store offers a fragrant invitation to explore the colorful aisles. It’s a sensory journey. The brand’s signature Scent Experience, in particular—where spice merchants guide customers through a selection of 20 different spices and blends—teaches curious shoppers spicy fun facts, creative recipe applications, and how to discern varietal subtleties.

Spices on display at The Spice House

The newest program, the Spice Bar, features four rotating spices each month for customers to taste and enjoy, such as Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s signature spice, black garlic ramen pepper. Just like a wine tasting, customers can savor samples and learn from, well, seasoned staffers. “Our spice merchants bring welcoming knowledge and diverse skills to the cooking experience,” Southard says. “Most of our staff are home cooks, teachers, travelers, or past chefs, but all are passionate spice-people to make it fun and approachable.”

The store’s website and social media channels provide additional resources for culinary tips and tricks. “Everyone gets information differently,” Southard says. Whether it’s a deep dive into the particulars of chile-lime shrimp or discovering the difference between citrusy Mexican and Greek oregano with its minty undertones, there is plenty to explore for both experienced cooks and kitchen novices.

“This is an experience,” Southard says. “It’s fun walking in even if you aren’t a chef because you’ll walk out excited and feeling like you have something to take with you.”


Photos courtesy of the Spice House