A few months ago I learned that Williams-Sonoma in Annapolis, Md. was hosting a cooking class that would include pizza-making among various other Italian specialties. Well, being a displaced Long Islander living in Maryland still trying to recreate my hometown pizza places' pies, I thought I'd give it a shot. Pizza was the only reason my wife and I attended this class ... and, you'll understand why I will never attend a cooking class at Williams-Sonoma again after reading this.
So, here I am sitting through a session with a bunch of soccer moms and the "chef" (a pastry chef, nonetheless) decides to take a break from making an awful tomato sauce that she must have picked up from Rachel Ray and started getting ready to prepare a pizza.
This wasn't gonna be just any ordinary pizza ... it was gonna be a real "gourmet" pizza with all the fancy fixins! Then, the well-schooled chef goes under the table and into the refrigerator to pull out her ingredients and what to my amazement did she pull out but a bag of dough from Trader Joe's!
I literally spoke out loud and said (heckled her), "You've gotta be kidding me!" She explained to me that she had a busy day and didn't have time to make fresh dough, but the store-bought dough was just as good. Let me remind you that the classes at Williams-Sonoma aren't cheap, and that we made "reservations" for the class well in advance to learn how to cook authentic, homemade, gourmet recipes -- not semi-homemade like you'd find on Sandra Lee's Food Network show. And, we all know that pizza dough can last a few days in the fridge if you prepare it in advance.
Here's the best part ... the chef prepares the fake-and-bake pizza and throws it in the oven and continues on with the rest of the class. There's about 45 minutes left at this point. I know for a fact she put it in the oven at 500-degrees on a semi-warm pizza stone, and that means it's gonna take no more than 8-minutes to cook.
Well, this was my chance at payback and boy was it good. About 8 minutes went by and I'm wondering when she's going to check the pizza. A few more go by and I'm thinking, "Way to go expert (pastry) chef! You're gonna burn that pizza and I'm happily gonna let you do it."
About 25 minutes after she put the pizza in the oven, I could smell something burning and so did she, though she wasn't going acknowledge the pizza was ruined. Then, she jumps and says, "Oh, it looks like our pizza is ready." Yea, as-if ... It came out burnt and the cheese was completely browned-over. She then made some excuse saying you could cook it to your desired preference, but she likes her pizza well-done, which was quite an understatement, but served her right for using store bought dough at a Williams-Sonoma "gourmet" cooking class. I was equally amused when she sliced her crunchy pie and served up samples, which didn't seem to appeal to the palates of her "students."
Maybe I'll go back when they teach people how to bake fancy desserts and find her with a tube of cookie dough and a box of brownie mix. Chances are, that was the last cooking class I'll ever attend at Williams-Sonoma. I wonder if the pastry chef hosts the "sushi-making" class, too?