Edible Bozeman

The Heart of the Home

For many families, the kitchen is the heart of the home. A place where people gather to tell stories, to spread love through nourishment, and to drive the chef mad by picking at ingredients while a meal is in process. It’s a venue for getting to know one another more deeply, where we can give thanks for the food and folks that sustain us. So it’s no surprise that entering Bozeman’s newest kitchen store and commercial cooking space, La Cuisine, feels more like entering a home than a retail shop.

A painting of the Eiffel Tower sits delicately on the mantel of a large stone fireplace, and a circular chandelier with slate slabs illuminates the foyer. Below, two stout leather chairs and an area rug invite my attention across the hardwood floors and into the rest of the space, filled with wooden shelving, wicker baskets of fresh lavender, decorative mirrors, pottery, dinnerware, and more kitchen gadgets than you can imagine.

“Come on up,” owner Tina Cusker calls with a smile from the balcony upstairs. “Can I get you something to drink?” she asks, leading with the gentle hospitality that shines so naturally in her new business venture.

Cusker, a career K–12 educator with a passion for entertaining and cooking, is a fifth-generation Montanan bred from a long line of entrepreneurs, farmers, and creative business owners. Her husband, Brett Cusker, is a twenty-five-year Air Force veteran whose career allowed their family to live in South Korea, Germany, and Belgium as well as a handful of American cities.

“Being a military family gave us opportunities to travel and experience different cultures, cuisines, and ways of living that were very different from what we had as a couple of Montana kids,” Cusker says. “We spent time with people from all over the world, and this store is really fashioned around those experiences—the products we learned to use, the kitchen tricks that we adopted, the European styles of cooking and communing that we would have never otherwise known about.”

The couple returned to the States in 2014 and settled in Bozeman, where Cusker taught at MSU for seven years. In the fall of 2019, her longing to use her international exposure grew stronger. A culinary cruise through France earlier that summer culminated in a cooking class with Michelin-star Chef Anne-Sophie Pic, and as Cusker soaked up instruction and excelled in the groups, her friends took notice.

“They suggested that I open a kitchen store in Bozeman,” Cusker says. “I thought it was a fantastic idea, as I was ready to do something different and shift to culinary education. But Brett wasn’t game for it right away, so we put it on the back burner, and I thought it would never happen. Shockingly, a year later, in the height of the pandemic, we were eating dinner and he looked across the table at me, eyes lit up and he said, ‘You should open that kitchen store,’ along with a dozen rapid-fire ideas on how it could work.”

“I want this business to be a vehicle for meeting your neighbors, caring about your community, and making people feel not only welcome, but respected and appreciated.“ —Tina Cusker, La Cuisine


After purchasing the space outright in 2020, the Cuskers worked with Martel Construction and engineer Joe Perrelli and his wife, architect Brooke Perrelli, to transform the space into a retail shop on the ground floor with a commercial kitchen and office in the loft. The kitchen seats fifteen to twenty guests and is outfitted with industrial-sized stainless-steel appliances: refrigerator, freezer, gas stove, convection oven, dishwasher, and a three-compartment sink. This back-of-the-house vibe is balanced with warm lighting, French Blue cabinets, matching sink-to-ceiling glass tile backsplash, marble countertops, and wooden high tops with comfortable rotating bar stools. Many accents, colors, and details are French-inspired, including the name, of course— La Cuisine—which translates to “the kitchen.”

Every Tuesday evening, La Cuisine hosts a different high-end chef from a local restaurant to teach a two-hour cooking class, showing guests how to produce a delicious meal, sharing secret efficiency tips—shaking garlic in a closed container to remove the skins, for example—offering suggestions for presentation and plating, and focusing on the importance of fresh ingredients for the best flavor. A dot cam on the ceiling above the chef captures all the action and streams it directly to the iPads mounted on the tables so each attendee can participate and have a closer look.

“Aesthetically, I wanted it to look as much like a home kitchen as possible, but everything is designed to be accessible and efficient for the chefs as well as the guests,” Cusker says. “Things like hands-free trash access on the island, a hydraulic mixer lift that hides in a cabinet while not in use, knife-drawer organizers that keep knives sharpened. We provide nonstick and stainless lines for our chefs as well as a full castiron line primarily from Zwilling. Our chefs use the products we sell so participants have the opportunity to experience the quality for themselves.”

James Beard Award–winning chef and Revelry culinary director Tory McPhail and Chef Sadie Morales of Sadie’s Catering are among the talent that kicked off the cooking classes since the grand opening in September. In January, La Cuisine will feature a Coconut Caribbean dinner with Chef Claudia Krevat of Claudia’s Mesa, make tamales with cookbook author and co-owner of Chico Hot Springs Seabring Davis, roll out handmade ravioli with Chef Greg Montana, and enjoy a Thai dinner with Chef Jenn Stoker-Drake. The space is also available as a commissary kitchen for wholesale food providers to create products such as spices, jams, pickles, and baked goods.

Above all, the biggest reward for Cusker as a business owner has been watching community build right before her eyes.

“Unless it’s a private event, which we do off er, chances are there are people sitting next to you that you’ve never met before,” she says. “We’re learning together, enjoying wonderful food, getting up close and personal with chefs that are typically hiding behind the walls of your favorite restaurants, cross-promoting other businesses, and ultimately we’re strengthening the social and economic fabric of Bozeman.”

“If we can come together around a table, break bread together, and walk away feeling more connected to each other and the food that sustains us, we’re all winning.” —Tina Cusker, La Cuisine

James Beard Award–winning chef and Revelry culinary director Tory McPhail helped kick off La Cuisine’s cooking classes in September.


The last eighteen months have drastically changed the way people relate to their food and to the act of cooking. Business closings, virtual schooling, cancelations, and lockdowns left people at home much more than usual, learning—or remembering—how to prepare their own meals, Googling recipes, asking chef friends for inspiration, and buying whatever they could find on grocery store shelves and farmers market tables.

“We realized one of the blessings of this time was a revitalization of mealtime, as well as an appreciation for the food and socialization with those we love,” Cusker says. “With our retail shop—which features incredible Montana-made and European kitchen products— and our cooking classes, we get to help people return to the kitchen. Every week I go home thinking, ‘I can’t believe this is my life.’ It’s truly a dream.”

Because of her experiences as a military wife and mother, Cusker vowed to make La Cuisine a business that supports not only veterans but the entire family that helps make the member’s service possible. On Feb. 19, La Cuisine will host an inaugural complimentary class and dining experience exclusively for military members and their spouses—reserve, active duty, or retired—as a thank you for their service. Cusker is blown away by the support she’s received, both in putting together the military dinner, and in the general search for partners who want to be a part of La Cuisine’s growing community.

“I’m very humbled by the people that are willing to work with us and by the open-mindedness of the business community here in Bozeman,” she says. “Th is state is evolving quickly, and there is a lot of attitude of not wanting more residents. But I’d much rather be thriving than dying. I know what it’s like to be the new person in a town, and I want this business to be a vehicle for meeting your neighbors, caring about your community, and making people feel not only welcome, but respected and appreciated.”

With a tagline of “Heart of the Home,” La Cuisine demonstrates the power of coming together. “Th is business can’t thrive alone, and it’s a microcosm of how the world works. If we can come together around a table, break bread together, and walk away feeling more connected to each other and the food that sustains us, we’re all winning.”

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