5 of the Best Things I Bought When I Worked at Williams Sonoma

published Nov 11, 2021
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Credit: Minette Hand

As a life-long lover of food and cooking, it was my dream to land a job at Williams Sonoma’s Corporate Headquarters in San Francisco, California, managing the blog and video content on the creative team for two years. (I had to say goodbye to the job because I was moving to New York City for love. Bittersweet.) At least once a week, the content team would be invited up to the Test Kitchen where we would be asked to taste test a variety of dishes that would be featured on the website and in the magazine or, in some cases, a forthcoming cookbook.

I’d also help out during video shoots. I was, on a few occasions, the hands showcasing a new tool or product that would later be featured on the YouTube channel or website. On a trip to the Staub factory in France, I got to learn how enameled cast iron cookware is made. I could start off any given day interviewing multi-James-Beard-Award-winning chef Dominique Crenn for the Williams Sonoma blog and then help tell the story of Chef Brandon Jew’s incredible San Francisco restaurant, Mister Jiu’s, set in the heart of Chinatown.

While I grew up shopping at Williams Sonoma with my mom, working there gave me an insider’s perspective on the vastness and quality of products they carry (and knowledge into how they’re made) and an employee discount that any person would be a fool not to use.

During my time as an employee, I used my discount sparingly because, even though I love to cook, I lived in a junior studio apartment with a micro kitchen in Nob Hill. Nonetheless, these are some of my best buys that I picked up then and still use now that I’m on the East coast. The best part? They’re all relatively inexpensive — even without the employee discount.

1. Williams Sonoma Fish Spatula

One of my favorite colleagues used to say this fish spatula was her favorite tool that she used for everything, and so it was my first purchase I made as an employee at Williams Sonoma. While its primary purpose is to flip delicate fish, the universal appeal of this spatula is its universality in turning any delicate foods. I use it to transfer just-baked cookies to a cooling rack, flip crepes, slice brownies, and more.

2. Williams Sonoma French Whisk

Having used basic whisks for years, I knew I had graduated to another level when I gifted myself Williams Sonoma’s French Whisk on a whim after volunteering at the flagship San Francisco store one holiday season. With a long, narrow shape and crafted of heavy-gauge stainless steel, this whisk’s design turns eggs into a well-blended, fluffy cloud. My life was forever transformed the day I bought this.

3. Kuhn Rikon Straight Peeler

I remember dreading the chore of peeling potatoes as a kid because I’d always get the sharp edge of the peeler caught in the crook of my thumb. Well, that was because we only had a swivel peeler in our house. As an adult I was introduced to the simple innovation of the straight peeler, designed to make peeling both bulky squash and delicate Persian cucumbers a breeze. At $5 each, I didn’t even need to use my discount.

4. Goldtouch Bakeware

Truth be told, I never knew about the magic of Goldtouch until I started working at Williams Sonoma. And up to that point, I thought my industrial pans from Costco were doing just fine. But while on set shooting a video for these miracle pans, I realized I had unknowingly been shortchanging my baking experience for years. It’s true that Goldtouch isn’t exactly budget-friendly, but what you do get in exchange for the cost is even heating due to the aluminized steel and nonstick coating. And almost nothing sticks, making cleanup super easy, and almost kind of enjoyable. Plus, you can’t deny that these pieces are beautiful to look at.

5. Sphere Ice Molds

There’s nothing practical about novelty-shaped ice molds, and that’s precisely why they’re so fun. It was no doubt a bit of a challenge making extra-clear ice to shoot the video for Williams Sonoma’s ice molds. But the content team quickly learned that the trick is boiling the water first to prevent air bubbles from forming in the ice. After being the video “talent” for the shoot, and having a chance to play with the molds beforehand, I knew I needed to order them as soon as they were available. Because, let’s be honest: Any cold-drink experience is elevated when there’s a frozen globe floating in the glass.

What are some of your favorite purchases from Williams Sonoma? Tell us in the comments below.