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Culture stirs up $13 million

Yum! The appliance retailer wants to beef up its social-networking and editorial offerings, as well as let other sites create branded "stores," so it's pulled in a tasty venture round from Azure Capital Partners.

Bon appetit for The kitchen appliance retailer announced Wednesday that it has pulled in $13 million in venture funding in a round led by Azure Capital Partners. ORIX Venture Finance also contributed venture debt to the round, and Azure partner Michael Kwatinetz is now on the company's board of directors.

The new cash will be used toward a variety of goals at expand editorial and social-networking operations on the site (a sound decision when it seems like everyone can't stop talking about Bobby Flay and Mario Batali), opening a new distribution center in Ohio, and allowing more Web sites to offer "Powered by" stores. That's something that some food-related brands already do, like Starbucks, Pillsbury, and the Food Network.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based has been around since 1998, still alive and kicking despite the fact that retail leviathan has been selling cooking appliances for years now.

"We are excited to have new investment partners and funding, which will allow us to enrich the experience and brand," founder and CEO Tracy Randall said in a release, "and also further our goal to increasingly become a driving e-commerce force for some of the world's most visited culinary sites." In other words, just as many media companies are pushing their content out to multiple video-sharing sites, niche commerce sites are hoping to hook up with more retailers.