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A Sonoma County-Style Wedding Gift is as Easy as Williams-Sonoma

When anyone attends a Sonoma County wedding, part of the fun is in finding the perfect gift.

But if you’re acclaimed chef, there can be a bit of pressure, too. The original idea of wedding gifts, after all, came from when couples married very young and needed help in setting up their home, for everything from dinner plates to bed comforters.

A lot of thought can go into what the couple needs for the kitchen, specifically. A toaster? A Crockpot?

For Santé chef Andrew Cain, the answer was easy. For his friend’s wedding this winter, he picked up a Le Creuset pan, noting that it would last a lifetime. As the kitchen talent for the upscale restaurant in the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, he uses top quality equipment at both work and home, including Le Creuset Dutch ovens, Lodge cast iron pans, and Mauviel pots and pans.

With the opening of the new Williams-Sonoma store in downtown Sonoma this October, shopping had suddenly become even easier, with chef Cain eyeing the multitude of shiny toys with unguarded joy.

With the return of the very first Williams-Sonoma that first opened in this very spot on Broadway in 1956, the shop showcases the cutting-edge cookware that made the now-empire such as success. Yet it is also is a tribute to the past, showcasing items like an antique duck press that store founder Chuck Williams played with in this actual space long ago, alongside his friends, chefs James Beard and Julia Child.

The selection is daunting, but choosing a wedding gift couldn’t be simpler, thanks to an on-line registry that the wedding couple can set up, and all guests can access with the click of a few computer keys. Categories include “top cookware,” “top home and housekeeping,” and “top electrics,” plus helpful price categories, too.

Would the happy couple like a 1965 Pillivuyt Louis XVIII of France hot chocolate pot, set with wood wands for pulverizing whole cocoa beans ($395)? Or are they more the type to appreciate a Lodge sauté pan ($45), that’s great for pan roasting, making omelets, searing and frying? It’s a hefty thing to lift, but three years ago, Lodge introduced a seasoned carbon steel pan that cooks like cast iron without the weight and with faster heating.

If you don’t have a personal chef to shop with — Cain likes to come here and browse with his girlfriend — just ask the staff, who are experts in the what’s and why’s of the inventory.

A heavy-duty cutting board is a tremendous gift, they might point out, since it you oil it regularly it will last forever (you can even get it monogrammed). An adjustable meat pounder is equally great for Swiss steak as it is for chicken Paillard, since the pounding tenderizes the meat by breaking up tough muscle fibers.

A Michel Bras mandoline is well worth the $299, meanwhile, since five blades are included, for a full range of precise cuts used by professional chefs including slices, crinkle cuts, waffle cuts and three different sizes of julienne. A handy guard protects the fingers, too.

Another gift idea could be certificates for cooking classes. The Sonoma store has its own demonstration kitchen, and hosts chefs and specialists to teach the culinary arts.

Details: Williams-Sonoma, 605 Broadway, Sonoma, 707-939-8974, williams-sonoma.com.

Tip: If you’re traveling into Sonoma County for a wedding, get yourself a gift, too, with savings on nearby lodging. Visit Deals for great packages, such as a lovely room near downtown Sonoma at The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, the Gaige House in Glen Ellen, or Sonoma Creek Inn.

Planning a wedding in Sonoma County? Ask for free wedding assistance here.

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