I love cooking classes. Oh, I know my way around a kitchen, it’s my job after all, but to this day I remain a klutz bent on chopping off one of her fingers. I also hate washing dishes as I go, which means the kitchen counter becomes quickly overrun with bowls and downright unmanageable. And because of my ADD, or Attention Deficit Disorder, try as I might, creating timed lists and all, food prep always seems to get away from me in the final stages, to the extent that whenever friends come over for a Saturday dinner or brunch, they end up cooking alongside in hopes of eating before midnight rings…
Cooking classes offer the best of both worlds as far as I’m concerned. On the one hand, the whole evening consists of discussing cooking techniques, tableware brands, exotic ingredients and food trends. Heaven. On the other hand, while I get to play with knives like the other grown ups, there’s always a handy chef nearby to save my life. Then, in the end, I get to eat delicious food that I don’t have the patience to prepare at home (and anyways, my picky eaters would never appreciate). Nirvana.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being invited by the Williams-Sonoma boutique at Carrefour Laval to discover their cooking classes. Set in the very middle of bookcases and table displays piled with beautiful tableware, jars of cooking sauces and enticing cookbooks, a fully-equipped kitchen island awaits guests. Grey marble counters, glazed white tiles, built-in cooktops, it’s all very pretty, upscale and inviting (save for the cute but uncomfortable stools which had me balancing on-and-off all evening, note to the interior designer…).
In-store technique classes are free (!) and, according to season and schedule, can go from knife skills to Easter pastry. If you seek a more tailored class, it’s also possible to organize an evening around a theme or someone’s anniversary, for example. It will cost you around $50 per guest for a 3- or 5-course class, unless you ask for a more expensive fish tartare class, let’s say. The best part for shopaholics? Paid class participants get 10% off any item in store, even those already reduced (psst! you’ll want to check Le Creuset, whose Yellow Van Gogh series is being discontinued and therefore deeply discounted…).
You don’t feel like driving all the way to Carrefour Laval or Dix30, Williams-Sonoma other Greater Montreal address? Their chefs also offer private cooking classes at home and are even available for children birthday workshops. Cookie class anyone?
Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, West Elm, Crate and Barrel…: US kitchen and home decor stores have finally landed in Greater Montreal, opening both on and off the island. While the instinct is to bemoan the potential impact on Québec kitchen and tableware stores, the quality, the brands and the upscale choices inside Williams-Sonoma had me smiling. Those shopping center kitchen stores from my youth feel like a time warp away. While Arès and Després Laporte remain among my go-to addresses, I was instantly taken with WS. In fact, the only other store in recent memory that had a similar impact on me was the new Espace Ricardo in Saint-Lambert, whose launch I attended and where I’m due to go back soon.
One small dampener though: the Canadian websites of Williams-Sonoma, West Elm, Crate and Barrel & all basically come down to a list of addresses, unlike their US counterparts with their online boutique and dreamy catalogue. It seems that the price of translating the websites into French to comply with Québec’s Bill 101 has proven cost prohibitive, given the inventories numbering in the thousands of products that change seasonally. So if you want to dream and drool, you’ll have to visit the .com and not .ca versions of their parent companies. It may save your wallet if nothing else.
Williams-Sonoma Carrefour Laval
3035 Le Carrefour Blvd. in Laval
9120 Leduc Blvd. in Brossard