Tyler Florence: A Demonstration from 'Inside The Test Kitchen'

I require little persuasion to join in with any food related event so the prospect of watching Tyler Florence demonstrate a selection of recipes along with a signed copy of his newly published book, ‘Inside The Test Kitchen’ was a golden opportunity. Tyler is a TV chef whose first book, ‘Real Kitchen’ was published in 2003 and now has a total of 11titles as well as 2 Californian restaurants dedicated to casual dining: San Francisco’s Wayfare Tavern and Mill Valley’s El Paseo. Wednesday’s setting was the demonstration kitchen at Williams-Sonoma’s store in the Northpark Center, Dallas though I was slightly confused by the relatively small size of this area in hosting such a prestigious event.

Arriving by the prescribed 6.30, further confusion mounted with just 4 stools set before the cooking area and not an autograph hunter in sight… Two ladies had arrived a few minutes ahead of us and were whispering together before enquiring what we had expected from this evening’s spectacle, the reality of the event being a demonstration by a member of staff with an autographed sticker to arrive by mail.

The event was lively and sociable with Tex-Mex themed recipes prepared and presented for us to enjoy: Pork Carnitas Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa Verde, Roasted Tomato-Pepper Salsa, Guacamole and Roasted & Grilled Mexican Corn, all flavour-packed dishes that I will certainly try at home. Our demonstrator was personable and whilst she did her best to answer questions there was general disappointment that Tyler wasn’t present though professionally, I have various questions to ask Williams-Sonoma about their organisation of paid-to-attend demonstrations.

Founded by Chuck Williams in 1956, Williams-Sonoma is a retailer of high-end kitchen and home products with a mission for world class service and to “bring people together around food”. Wandering through the store, chatting with product-knowable assistants, this mission certainly appeared to have been realized, each store equipped with a “professional demonstration kitchen for cooking classes and tastings that are conducted by expert culinary staff”. However, I cannot agree with the latter, the kitchen area and utensils were scruffy, the ingredients ill-prepared, some unavailable and it seemed unfair that our ‘culinary expert’ had not been adequately briefed and prepared so wasn’t able to do justice to the recipes, professionally present the dishes or to fully answer basic questions…

This was a fun evening and an opportunity to connect with like-minded food enthusiasts, tasty food thrown in too. Since the demonstration I have spoken with Ms. Perrakis, Brand Marketing Manager at their San Francisco Head Office who explained that the series of Book Club demonstrations was in its' infancy so welcomed discussion and was receptive to ideas. I am sure this experience was a hiccup and I look forward to visiting future events that I am certain will be spot on track in every way and appreciated the opportunity for such a sensible discussion.