Monday, September 24, 2007

Classes and Jars

I think my love for Williams-Sonoma has been made amply clear. How disappointed was I when my beloved slipped, losing an entire 10 points on my obsession scale!

Imagine my surprise when I walked into W-S expecting a tutorial in braising as part of their weekly technique classes, and received an extended QVC-type plug for their line of prepared braising sauces! Ick. Why on earth would I go to a class to learn how to open jars? Never mind my disappointment in the instructor who had difficulty distinguishing between a braise and a stew.

I am sorry to be snarky about the entire undertaking considering that the majority of my cooking know-how is gleaned from books and television, but come on! Demonstratig a recipe for chicken cacciatore that consists of step 1) brown chicken, and step 2) open jar of sauce seems like talking down to the audience. But maybe not… the fact that half the people in the room visibly gagged when the instructor began dismembering a whole chicken should have been sign #1 that the audience, and perhaps the class, were not my scene. Were they not aware that the shrink-wrapped blue-ish bird bits they pick up at the supermart come from an actual, gasp, chicken? Irritation embodied, that.

Perhaps I need to finally suck it up, quit my whining (and grad school) and take a real cooking class.

P.S. I am only (mostly) joking about quitting grad school. I think.
P.P.S. Don’t worry, I still love Williams-Sonoma. It will have to earn back the points it lost, however.


jo said...

As a local cooking teacher who spends many a Sunday morning teaching at the W-S in Burlington, i wish to apologize.
Seriously, that isn't what one usually gets from a W-S class, i can assure you!
In fact, drop me a note if you are interested and i will see if I can get you in to one of my next classes.
I have one coming up on Sunday, not sure if it is sold out or not.
Menu is:
*Pasta Rustica with chicken sausage and three cheeses
*White Chili
*Pasta Salad with grilled tuna and roasted tomatoes
*Chicken enchiladas with tomatillo sauce
*Polenta casserole with meat sauce

After Sunday they will quite down a bit for the holidays and kick in again in January.
I think the reason you are so disappointed is that it was one of their 'techniques' classes which is different as they often use sales staff to teach and not outside chef/instructors.
I'd just hate for you to think they are all like that.

Anna said...

Oh I am an ass. I am sorry, I didn't mean to come across as harshly as I did. I think I was expecting something different from the class than it was meant to be. That is my fault. To be honest, I cannot fault W-S from wanting to sell their products. That is the whole purpose of the store, after all, not community education. I am very much interested in the class on Sunday! Hope it can work out.

JC said...

that was awkward...


Anna said...

Thanks. Thanks for that, JC. You're no help at all.

aimee said...

Please, I think it’s totally fair that you were snarky about the demonstration; your love let you down (in this instance). I’d be disappointed and a little bitchy about it too. Having high expectations is no horrible thing, but being perfect isn’t easy, Anna. You’re bound to face a few set backs and be let down once in a while. You’ll accept it one day, but until then we should all be able to understand and expect you to be at least a little curmudgeonly!

Hillary said...

Lol, that was pretty hilarious but how nice of Jo to respond with better offerings! I do hope you find what you're looking for. Maybe I should take a cooking class too...

JC said...

One of the chefs on Top Chef was so good at dismembering a chicken that everyone stopped what they were doing and just watched him work. Even Tom Colicchio. I want to learn how to do that!

Hillary said...

Ooh yea that would be Hung! He really does need to teach a course on how he became so damn fast!!

jo said...

No, JC, not awkward. If it sucks - and they should know it does.

I wish W-S would distinguish between their "technique" classes (read corporate led initiatives, taught by staff who aren't necc. cooks and geared towards sales) vs the classes where they bring in outside cooks/chefs to make W-S recipes.
I make no commission from W-S so if I talk about a piece of cookware or an ingredient it's because i like it, not because I am getting a kick back and I really try to make that clear in my class.
I'm all about spreading the gospel of getting people to cook, not eat out, not get take out, not tipping a jar into a pan.
Ssee you Sunday Anna, and relax!

JC said...

I was just giving Anna a hard time.

leena! said...

hey Anna,

I too used to teach cooking classes at W-S, but I would die before I used a jarred sauce in one of my classes! I always did dessert classes, but I did have to make sure I didn't make anything too complicated, because most of my audience was comprised of 40 year old rich housewives dying to spend their husband's money on some useless tool like a powdered sugar sprinkler. I still can't believe such a tool exists.

Plus, there was really no requirement other than culinary school or an interest in food to teach that classes at my local W-S, and let tell you, I knew plenty of culinary school trained people who couldn't cook their way out of a paper bag...or a jarred sauce, for that matter!