Combine energetic Italian family-taught cook, Nora LaBrocca, with a homey dramatic retail space in downtown Medford, and you have the fixings for outstanding lunch fare, stocked shelves of eclectic housewares, fun group cooking classes led by weekend pop-up brunch chef, Braden Hitt, and tasting events at the Downtown Market Company she co-owns with husband Brian Witter. Since 2010, they have together created a space reminiscent of a big city neighborhood shop that serves as the perfect place for grabbing a seat at the lunch counter, securing a few last-minute dinner items, or stopping in for the occasional local wine tasting.

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Now in its 6th year of operation, the couple has elevated the front of the house with a high design but comfy feel, giving patrons additional space for lounging while their table is prepared. Century-old display cases from the recently-closed Lawrence’s Jewelers made their way across the street and now serve as shelving for Nora’s curated selection of housewares, so fitting for this brick-walled cafe and market housed in an equally historic building.

New to the Market’s team this month is Chef Kali Kennedy, who is stepping in to lead a back-of-the-house reset with a new menu of pastry offerings. Chef Kennedy, a 2012 SOU graduate, tutelaged under several Phoenix, Arizona and Southern Oregon chefs, including Chef Chris Kemp, previously at The Black Sheep, and Chef Damon Jones of Lark’s Restaurant at Inn at the Commons in Medford, where she still works as chef on the savory side.  Raised in a family involved in many creative endeavors, she says “my pastry design skills actually come quite naturally because of the creativity I was surrounded with as a child. The world melts away when I’m baking and time just disappears”.

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Lemon Meringue Tarts. Image by: The Local Dish

Inspired by Nora’s Italian heritage and Kali’s secret role model. New York-based dessert icon, Christina Tosi, the Market’s sweet offerings will take on a decidedly fresh, exciting new look this spring in time for Easter, such as beautiful Apple Tart Rosettes that are still in development. Market-goers will continue to see the reliable Tiramisu Cake, Coconut Cupcakes, and Cream Puffs in the pastry case, temptingly positioned at the cafe entrance.

At the Downtown Market Company, you may want to eat dessert…first.