Williams-Sonoma Opens First U.S. Cooking School

Williams-Sonoma’s head of culinary programs, Vladimir Niza, was in town yesterday to open the high-end retail chain’s first U.S. cooking school at their 1550 N Fremont Street location. After a media tour of the new store’s layout, Niza set to the task of showing our group how to make tagliatelle with tomatoes and pesto.

Williams-Sonoma Cooking Demonstration

A pesto-in-progress!

Throughout the demonstration, Niza showed off the features of the kitchen as well as techniques that Chef Jennifer Goodman will have available for courses. High-end Vitamix and Imperia products and cookware from the Williams-Sonoma line were also used.

I admit that a course or two might satisfy my culinary curiosity about whether these items are worth picking up. Though I’m sure I would have a hard time justifying a $200 iPad stand with screen and blue-tooth speakers in any case, right? Right. Deep breath. I’m seriously considering a Vitamix, though.

Williams-Sonoma Fresh Pasta

A close-up of our freshly made pasta.

I will admit to learning a few things: blanch your basil to bring out flavor and make it last longer; add toasted pine nuts towards the end of the blending process so it doesn’t become chalky; heat tomatoes through so the rawness isn’t jarring to the cooked dish; and always sprinkle raw sugar into the mix to bring out the tomatoes’ sweetness.

I’ve never made pasta from scratch for myself, and while Niza made the whole process seem easy and straightforward, I suspect it was the culmination of his culinary training and the high-tech gadgets in the test kitchen. I will try making the pesto on my own, though.

Williams-Sonoma Showroom

A feast of cooking gadgetry.

Prices for the classes will range between $65 children’s classes all the way to $1,500 bespoke offerings. Two hours courses are $75, three hour courses are $95, and four hours courses range between $155 to $175. Classes are open to all skill levels and are limited to ten people. Lest you think you’ll have to go it alone, everyone is paired up during a class.

I’m interested in the Butchery Nose to Tail, but should probably take the Essential Knife Skills class first. What do you need to brush up on to be a culinary rock star? Check out the list of available classes.