Often the quality time we spend with loved ones is time that’s spent in the kitchen. In honor of Father’s Day, we asked Williams-Sonoma associates to share their favorite tales of times spent behind the stove with Dad. We asked them what their fathers taught them about cooking, and they had lots to share—along with plenty of funny memories to boot.
The Freestyle Roaster
“My dad is a crazy scientist in the kitchen. Growing up, I’d always pick a recipe I wanted to try and I’d want to follow directions exactly. His style hails from the look-inside-your-fridge-and-see-what-you’ve-got philosophy. Because I always loved to cook and especially enjoyed cooking with him, I’d tolerate his freestyling. One year he bought a vertical roaster for a chicken, the one where most people but beer in the center, or maybe some herbs and citrus, then roast it to bring out all of the flavor. But no, my dad had to use a can of Peach Snapple. Not kidding. And the scary part? It was freaking delicious. I guess dads really do know best.”
— Amanda Haas, Director of Culinary
You Can’t Hurry Perfect Chimichurri
“I’m the kind of cook who likes to experiment in the kitchen; I rarely make the same thing twice. My dad, on the other hand, is all about mastery. Whether it’s his annual Southwestern Thanksgiving turkey or his salmon on a cedar plank, he likes to cook, eat, analyze and repeat as necessary. A few years ago he turned his attention to chimichurri sauce. He tweaked the herb ratios, experiment with acids, and even compared herbs chopped with a food processor, a knife and a mezzaluna. When my sister got married last year, she had one food request for her caterers–that they make my dad’s chimichurri for her reception. The caterer complied and it was the star of the dinner—commitment really pays off! Since then I’ve been less capricious in the kitchen and have been trying to really ace a dish I can call my own.”
— Merritt Watts, senior content manager
Dad’s Secret Ingredient
“One of my first, and favorite kitchen memories centers around making meatballs with my dad. As a little girl I always wanted to help out in the kitchen. He found the perfect way to include me by taking a fun twist on a common dinner staple. We would work on the base of the meatballs together, but once everything was complete he would leave the kitchen and I was assigned with the task of adding a “secret ingredient.” As a little girl, this ingredient ranged from crazy things like hot sauce to crunched up potato chips. The best part of the process was guessing what ingredient I chose over a big bowl of spaghetti at the dinner table. Lots of laughs came from this little tradition, and we still joke about the secret meatballs to the day.”
— Hayley Johnson, catalog production assistant
My dad does. Not. Cook. At all. He it utterly incompetent in the kitchen, which we suspect is feigned stupidity, because how can an otherwise intelligent person not remember where the jar of peanut butter is when it’s been in the same place for 30 years? Unless it’s grilling, in which case he likes to soak his charcoal in lighter fluid so it makes a fiery conflagration. He has also deigned to cook a few other things outdoors, like frying a turkey with a propane burner and boiling dozens of pounds of shrimp for an outdoor shrimp boil. But in each of those cases I was probably hiding inside, because it was probably 95 degrees outside and I didn’t want to leave the air-conditioning.
— Sharron Wood, culinary editor
The Cinnamon Roll Burglar
“Although my dad didn’t cook every night, when he did, he’d pull out all the stops. His one big tradition was to make cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. It was so sweet, because no matter what got in the way, he’d do it. One year, as a young adult I came home for Christmas. We had a ton of family visiting, so I offered to stay in the family room and give up my room. At four in the morning, I heard rustling in the kitchen and thought there was a burglar. I looked up and saw my 6’7” dad tiptoeing around the kitchen proofing his dough for his cinnamon rolls. He’d been up all night to make sure they would rise perfectly. At seven in the morning, he certainly was the hero of the hour. Even though I come from a line of great female cooks, it was my dad who instilled the passion for cooking in me.”