Happy Birthday, Chuck Williams!

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Happy Birthday, Chuck Williams!

It’s our favorite day of the year: Chuck Williams’ birthday! Our founder and inspiration is joining us for cake and company at our corporate headquarters to celebrate his 98th year. We’ll also be baking birthday cakes in our stores to honor Chuck and offering 20% off on all cookbooks through Sunday, 10/6. Stop by for a slice (and a good read)!


By introducing classic French cookware to the U.S., Chuck changed the way Americans cook at home. From novices to experienced cooks alike, he’s taught us valuable techniques, introduced new methods to our repertoires, and equipped our kitchens for any occasion. Read on for some of our favorite facts about Chuck, plus one of his classic recipes.



number of natty ties owned by Chuck



maximum number of people that Chuck thinks belong at a dinner party


At least 6

number of times Chuck says you should practice cooking a recipe before serving it to your unsuspecting guests



Chuck’s least favorite cooking method (“Too much trouble!”)



year in which the ten millionth Williams-Sonoma cookbook was printed


24 seconds

average amount of time it takes Chuck to find an error on a cookbook page



Chuck’s least favorite form of poultry (“Too many bones!”)



number of Williams-Sonoma cookbooks sold every minute



number of people who want to make pasta by hand (“Give them a break!”)


“Give them a break”

Chuck’s favorite way of expressing concern for readers’ sanity



how much Chuck hates the words “elegant,” “mouthwatering,” “dainty” and “lovely”



how hot Chuck runs, in Celsius


Shredding, not grating

what you do to Cheddar cheese. How many times does he have to tell you?



Chuck’s favorite legumes


Baking pan

not the same thing as a baking dish. How many times does he have to tell you?



drumettes? What part of a chicken is that, pray tell?



number of people who want to make homemade stock (“Give them a break!”)



number of cashmere sweaters in varying shades of green owned by Chuck



number of Arnold Palmers that Chuck has consumed in his lifetime



number of cloves of garlic that are too many for Chuck’s taste



number of different types of pie vessels Chuck thinks any self-respecting pie baker should own (let’s see: deep-dish, ceramic, glass and metal)



number of different colors of bell pepper they had when Chuck was a kid. Only the green ones!



number of ways to roast a chicken and have it come out “just fine”



the jaunty angle at which Chuck wears his hats


7 seconds

how long it takes Chuck to blush when complimented by an adoring fan


25 million

number of Chuck’s adoring fans


25 million

number of Williams-Sonoma customers



number of pots and pans in Chuck’s kitchen



years that Chuck has blessed us with his presence on this earth


Carrot Soup with Coriander


To honor the birthday of our founder, Chuck Williams, we are preparing one of Chuck’s classic recipes in our stores today: Carrot Soup with Coriander. The ground coriander and chopped cilantro give this soup its wonderfully bright, fresh taste.


1/3 cup (3 oz) unsalted butter

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

2 lb carrots (12-14), peeled and cut crosswise into ½ inch thick

1 baking potato, 8-9 oz, peeled and cut into small cubes

1 teaspoon ground coriander

4 cups (32 fl oz) chicken stock

½ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

2 cups (16 fl oz) milk, or as needed

freshly ground pepper

2-3 tablespoons dry sherry

½ cup (4 fl oz) sour cream

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro


In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. When hot, add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté, stirring, until beginning to change color, 20 – 30 seconds. Add the carrots, potato and ground coriander and sauté, stirring a couple of times, for 2-3 minutes. Add the stock, sugar and salt and raise the heat to medium-low, cover partially and continue simmering until the vegetables are soft when pierced with the tip of a knife, 20 – 25 minutes. Remove from the heat.


In a food processor fitted with the metal blade or in a blender, process the vegetables in small batches with their stock until smooth (the soup may be made ahead to this point, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days).


Return the puree to the saucepan and add 2 cups (16 fl oz) milk and pepper to taste. Place over medium heat and heat almost to a boil. Taste and adjust the seasonings. If the soup is too thick, add milk as needed to thin. Just before serving, stir in the sherry to taste.


To serve, ladle into warmed soup bowls. Top each bowl with a spoonful of sour cream and sprinkling of cilantro. Serve at once


Serves 6


Source: Merchant of Sonoma


Join us in wishing Chuck a happy birthday! Leave a comment on this post to sign our virtual birthday card — we’ll pass along the well wishes.

24 comments about “Happy Birthday, Chuck Williams!

  1. Rosalie Goldberg

    Happy Birthday Chuck! It was a pleasure meeting you some 5 years ago. What a wonderful man you are.

  2. María Elena de Teresa Pla

    Happy birthday and thanks for teaching us a lot about to cook

  3. Ana

    What a great day it was when Mr. William’s decided to dedicate himself to the “cooking”business! Happy, happy Birthday.

  4. Savannagal

    Happy Birthday Chuck! May you have many more happy, healthy years!

  5. Nancy

    Happy Birthday Mr. Williams. I loved working for your company for 8 years and you have enriched my cooking skills and my love of the profession. Thank you.

  6. Crystal

    May you have a fabulous day and a new year full of joy, good health and love. Congratulations on creating a such a great legacy, giving us a great place to work and a great mission to follow. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  7. Ani

    Wishing you a very happy birthday Mr. Williams! Lots of good health and a wonderful year ahead! You are an inspiration to us all!

  8. Lisa Rabin

    Dearest Chuck,
    I wish you a happy, healthy birthday and a wonderful year ahead! The years spent working with you way-back-when were inspirational and life changing. Your life ethos is one of integrity and passion, bound by beauty and simplicity. What an honor it was to work alongside you and learn from you! Celebrate well and please accept a “virtual” hug from me.

  9. Dora Evans

    I would be honored to have a drink with you! Hope you had a great birthday!

  10. Andrea Dechtman

    Happy happy happy. Fond memories of spending time with you, old friend.
    Best to you for a year filled with love, laughs, and good health.

  11. Ellen Evans

    May your infectious enthusiasm always be the heart and soul of your legacy! Wishing you the very best of birthdays with sincere appreciation of you! ~ a baking fan

  12. Jennifer sewcooker

    You are a cutie! HAPPY BIRTHDAY wishes for you. May your health and magnetic personality continue to flourish. ~ 1 of your 25 million adoring fans

  13. Melanie

    Happy Birthday Chuck!
    We have many October birthdays in my family, too; today is my niece’s 47th birthday, tomorrow would have been my father’s 87th birthday and my birthday is Sunday. Thanks for all the great recipes and products over the years!

  14. Lora Brody

    Dearest Chuck – happy birthday. I remember walking with you back to the Union Square store after breakfast and being accosted by a pan handler who, instead of asking for spare change, upon taking a closer look said, “Hey, nice tie.” Thank you for all the wonderful fun times – dinners with you and Julia sharing off color jokes on the couch – egg creams and seltzer play at Sammy’s Rumanian Steakhouse – birthday phone calls from La Combe – the opportunity to write those books – here’s to our mutual birthdays (David Brody’s.as well). We’ll raise a glass of champagne to you tonight. Love, Lora.

  15. Natalie J Vandenberghe

    I’m envious–yet puzzled: why isn’t Chuck wearing one of his green sweaters? If he doesn’t want them…
    JK – LOL
    Happy birthday!

  16. Garage Sale Stay Away's - Swap and Shop Lodi

  17. Carol

    Happy Happy Birthday from Store 416 in Metairie, Louisiana! We celebrate you today and every day!

  18. Happy 100th Birthday, Chuck Williams!

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