Friday, February 11, 2011

An Evening With Williams and Sonoma

This past Tuesday evening I attended my first cooking class at a local Williams and Sonoma store. This is a treat I've dreamed of doing for many years and I am so thrilled that I finally decided to do it! Of course I like to think I can cook but you know you can ALWAYS learn something from the professionals.

One of the first things that our instructor, Anne Terrell shared with us was that she hoped that each and every one of us would learn at least one new thing during the class. She also shared some of her background accented with the fact that she graduated from a local culinary school and has worked as a chef in various restaurants around Atlanta, before landing at Williams Sonoma. It's obvious she loves what she is doing.

Our class was titled "Simple Yet Sophisticated Dinner Party" with the description - "This memorable meal is sure to impress your guests, yet you won't need to spend all day preparing it." The original menu:

Romaine, Gorgonzola and Walnut Salad
Pork Chops with Garlic and Herbs
Bittersweet Chocolate Cake

Ms. Terrell, instead showed us how to prepare:

Romaine, Gorgonzola, Grape and Walnut Salad (has a wonderful walnut vinaigrette dressing)
Pork Chops with Garlic and Herbs
Potato Pancake
Glazed Carrots
Strawberry Tart with Orange Cream

Everything was just wonderful, very tasty, and well presented. We were truly impressed with how Ms. Terrell cooked and prepared every dish in the make-shift kitchen in the Williams Sonoma store using an All-Clad counter-top grill, a convection oven, and stove top. Well, and she did have the best of the best available to her at any given time so I imagine that helped!

A few takeaways for me:

- using a ceramic knife will prevent fruits and vegetables from browning (oxidizing) because it's blade is nonreactive. Who knew? (I'll be getting my set next month)
- a juicer is a must-have item for any home cook (I'll be getting mine next month)
- and lastly, sparkling water is most awesome!! They served this to us during our class. I watched to see where it was coming from and they were making it from a SodaStream machine. I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond the next night and purchased one for myself!! I love it!!

Ms. Terrell conducted the class with ease and even though she used WS products, she didn't overly promote them which was refreshing. Overall, I was very impressed with the entire class, so impressed that I signed up for the next four classes!! I can hardly wait until March when we will be doing "Brunch Favorites" which includes a menu of Very Berry Smoothies, Strata with Asparagus, Sausage and Fontina, Apple Pancakes, and Brown Sugar Macadamia Nut Coffee Cake!

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