Today we’re celebrating the grand opening of our San Francisco cooking school! Earlier this year we opened schools in Sydney and Chicago, and now we’ve expanded to program to our flagship Post Street store. We’ll be offering classes for all skill levels — from beginners to advanced cooks — on subjects ranging from pastry essentials to making quick weeknight meals for the family. The small classes of just 12 people will all be completely hands-on, so everyone has access to ingredients and equipment and can practice each technique themselves.
“What makes our San Francisco school different is that the kitchens were designed with people’s home kitchens in mind,” said Vladimir Niza, who heads Williams-Sonoma’s culinary programs. “There are no industrial ovens, gadgets or crazy ingredients — people will easily be able to recreate everything at home. It’s functional and warm, like sitting in your own kitchen.”
Vlad, who comes from a Michelin-star background, created the curriculum to focus on serious techniques in a fun, relaxed, informative environment. Two, three and four-hour classes are available, during the days and in the evenings. Learn the ins and outs of artisanal bread making and nose-to-tail butchery, or make an event of it with classes on date night cooking or a girls’ night out.
“There is never a dull moment here,” said Vlad. “You can come in to learn how to make a souffle or break down a lamb — it’s all taught with the same degree of excellence. And at the end of the class, people sit down and eat together. Our Post Street store was designed for that, with a communal table at the center for sharing meals. So we’re here to help you and get to know you and have a great time together.”
Classes at Post Street will be taught by Resident Chef Aaron Clarke, and we’ll also be inviting chefs from local restaurants to share the secrets behind their signature dishes.
“You can talk about a pastry crust, with quantities and instructions, but until people really feel it, they can’t say they know how to do it,” Aaron explained. “That’s the best thing about the school: it’s a nice combination of instruction and hands-on learning.”
The goal is to give cooks the confidence to cook more from scratch, but also to become more organized in the kitchen when it comes to menu planning and economics. We’ll teach people to use all parts of the ingredients they buy and make the most from their leftovers, while also instructing them in the artisanal traditions of preserving, canning, making cheese and curing. Classes will place a huge emphasis on the quality of ingredients, sourcing local, organic and sustainable products.
Party planners, take note: we are offering customized private classes, and we will also be renting out the cooking school space for events. Keep us in mind for your next celebration!
For his part, Aaron is particularly excited about this weekend’s Thanksgiving class. “Entertaining is really what I love, and Thanksgiving is my favorite meal of the year,” he told us. “For a lot of people it can be daunting, but it shouldn’t be. We have four attendees coming together who are all family members!”
Ready to join the fun? See our schedule of classes here. And don’t forget, cooking classes make perfect holiday gifts, too!