Lauren Furey + Williams-Sonoma!
Williams- Sonoma is a culinary haven, decked out with top-notch everything. It’s truly a chefs version of paradise. An enthusiastic team of sales associates, product demonstrators, and culinary specialists are the stores' backbone and reason for success. On Williams- Sonoma's website, the company is described as:
"A multi-channel specialty retailer of high-quality products for the home. In 1956, our founder, Chuck Williams, turned a passion for cooking and eating with friends into a small business with a big idea. He opened a store in Sonoma, California, to sell the French cookware that intrigued him while visiting Europe but that could not be found in America. Chuck's business, which set a standard for customer service, took off and helped fuel a revolution in American cooking and entertaining that continues today. In the decades that followed, the quality of our products, our ability to identify new opportunities in the market and our people-first approach to business have facilitated our expansion beyond the kitchen into nearly every area of the home. Additionally, by embracing new technologies and customer-engagement strategies as they emerge, we are able to continually refine our best-in-class approach to multi-channel retailing."
When I was about thirteen years old, I remember walking into Williams- Sonoma in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, where I grew up. I was intrigued by the smell of caramelizing vegetables and the rich language of the culinarians within the store. While there, I noticed a chef demonstrating how to prep meals and just like that, my interest in cooking had sparked!
The chef was welcoming, especially when she invited my Nana and I to try a bite of a meal she had prepared. I asked her what else she did in her professional career when she admitted she was running for Miss America… OMG! Bewildered, I walked out of the store and asked my Nana how "the cool chef lady had the chance to have those jobs". My nana told me she probably spent a lot of time learning and treated people kindly.
Last year, I was asked by my friend and "mama" Melissa Ann Barton, of Mod Squad Martha to help with a cooking demonstration at Williams- Sonoma in Charleston. Um… Pinch me! Melissa Ann is all about telling a story with her products and demonstrations, and I do the same when I do my classes.
I was soon hired to revamp the culinary classes at Williams- Sonoma Charleston by adding local and entrepreneurial flair to a corporate company. Once, I have had Marriott executives come in to enjoy a lesson about making a bacon-wrapped turkey stuffed with chilis and clementines. I've never made a turkey that was fifteen pounds before, let alone wrapped in bacon. So I can say that this class was a bit of a surprise. The crowd wanted something that would be extremely entertaining and that would surely keep them on their toes. Glad I can check that one off my bucket list!
Exxon-Mobil came in for their team-building event where they learned how to make spiralized salads amongst various other dishes. Everyone working in the store was involved. The College of Charleston Hospitality
Club (CHAT) came in to make meals catered towards "Friendsgiving" potlucks. Various residents and tourists come in for either class that are organized corporately or classes that I can collaboratively plan with private groups.
The College of Charleston covered this story, too. Click here.
Thank you to Williams- Sonoma and Melissa Ann for this outrageous opportunity to cook with the community, and inspire college students to develop their culinary skills. I'm learning just as much as I am teaching.
-Now We're Cookin'!