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Sunday, October 26, 2003

Williams-Sonoma Grand Opening

Yesterday was the opening of Williams-Sonoma at Union Square in San Francisco. Williams-Sonoma calls the store it's flagship. Merriam-Webster defines flagship as the finest, largest, or most important one of a series, network, or chain. And the new store certainly lives up to that definition.

In 1954 Chuck Williams turned his hardware store in Sonoma into a store specializing in French cookware. The rest, as they say, is history. The inspiration was his love for cooking and eating with a close circle of friends. That love is still very much in evidence. The store opening was like a local foodie feeding frenzy.

Some of the highlights from Saturday:

*Chuck Williams was signing cookbooks.

*Local businessman and entrepreneur John Diefenbach and his wife were sampling the San Macario olive oil that they import from Lucca. Lucca is town with strong ties to the bay area. In the bay area the number of residents with roots in Lucca is staggering and likewise in Lucca everyone seems to know someone in the bay area.

*Talented Patricia Curtan a Berkeley artist known for her detailed prints for Chez Panisse menus and cookbooks was on hand. She had created a limited edition set of four handcarved block prints to commemorate the opening--a chicken, a crab, pears and garlic. Her work is really wonderful to behold, take a look at her web site and consider checking out her open studio event in December, I know I'll be there.

*Craig Stohl chef of local top-rated Italian restaurant Delfina was on hand to demonstrate how to make ravioli di zucca. His recipe was quite similar to mine I'm happy to report.

I'm sorry to be missing local culinary legend, Marion Cunningham who will be on hand Sunday signing cookbooks. Marion Cunningham worked with James Beard for many years and is the editor of the Fannie Farmer cookbook, which along with the Joy of Cooking is one of the great basic must-have American cookbooks of all times. If you need a basic recipe for just about anything in the American culinary repertoire, Cunningham is sure to have a no-fail recipe that will build your confidence in cooking.

The opening events end this Sunday, but by all means, do stop by the new store.

340 Post Street
San Francisco