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“Now We Are Four”

On August 15, 2008, a dream came true. After months, yea, even years, of planning, Gourmet Gallery Waco, opened for business. At the time no one realized that August 15 was the anniversary of Julia Child’s birthday. Frankly, we had worked so hard that I hardly remembered MY birthday. Nor did we know that 2008 would begin the economic downturn that we have all experiened these years. However, the dream has lasted.

A recap of what has happened in those four years: our first class was on a Saturday in September. Loren Lee  taught the group to make Creme Brûlée. (still one of our favorites.) However, since that beginning we have had 350+ classes and private parties and at least 3500 participants. Some of those “students” are repeat attendees. Still that seems to me to be a remarkable number of classes and participants. One of our most faithful participants is Janice Runyons who was not at the first class, but was still living in Kentucky or some other foreign country. When she did get here, she has been an enthusiastic person for our classes and trips. Oh, yes, what were and are the classes? I’ll mention a few: Tamales by Rachel; Farm to Table by Juanita; Sushi by Dee and Reiko; Seasonal Soups and Salads by Rachel; Quick Breads by Frank D; Date Nights by Kim and Stan, Salley and Chris, and others; Mediterranian Food by Karen; Paella by John and Carla; kolaches by Frank M and others too numerous to list. Karyn continues to use her creativity to find new and interesting topics and knowledgable chefs.

Included in the listing of classes is an idea we stole (pinched) from other kitchen stores. We call it COOKING THE BOOKS. At least 12 different books have been reviewed and food served from recipes taken from the book. In some cases there are no recipes, but any food mentioned is “fare” game.( Lisa Wingate, Clifton author, came to review SUMMER KITCHEN. The only food mentioned was PB&J and sandwiches; so, we did ‘Variations on a Peanut Butter Theme.–(Have you tried a Peanut Butter and onion sandwich?) JULIE AND JULIA brought forth Potato and Leek Soup, Boeuf Bourguignonne, and Crepes. BTW our classes are informative and fun. You may even bring the beverage of your choice to any class except KNIFE SKILLS CLASS

During these years we have bought merchandise from over 350 vendors, and we regularly order from 100-200 different companies. Our inventory includes over 5000 different items. Rachel keeps up with all of them. AMAZING!!!!  We have moved from being a pick-up place for Epicurean  gourmet dishes to having our own in-house chef, Juanita Barrientos, graduate of TAMU and Le Cordon Bleu. She and her sous chefs prepare our take-out dishes. If you are vegan or vegetarian, gluten intolerant, or like regular foods, come and try her delicious menu. The weekly menu is sent to our email list of customers. The items are “first come, first serve.”

We have sponsored three trips to various parts of the world to provide opportunities for tasting food and wine and seeing the sights in Texas, the United States of America and abroad. Our first trip was to Rome, Assisi, Florence and other places in Italy. Second, we took a group to Washington and Oregon, and this past spring our group visited Fredericksburg to experience wonderful foods and wines in the glorious Hill Country right here in Texas. Although I promised myself I would not do another group trip (It’s not my talent) I AM  thinking about planning trips to Jackson, Mississippi, for the Sweet Potato Queen’s Annual Parade, to 1000 Islands, New York, to enjoy the fresh fish and NY wines, oh, and Ireland and Scotland

Our staff is our greatest asset. Rachel Solano came to work July 8,2008..She helped with pricing inventory both on the new system and helped price every single item in an unair-conditioned space next to the new store. Her spirit, work ethic, loyalty and organizational skills are invaluable (and she likes good wine.) As mentioned, Juanita and her sous chefs Mrs Yu, Leah and Virginia have added a new dimension to our business and to Waco’s food choices. The Millers, too numerous to name.—–have been wonderful to fill in, take over, drink the wine, take out cardboard, mop, provided original art work and opportunities for charitable acts, to whatever else needs to be done.

Last but most important are those of you who have been our patrons and have remained faithful through these four years. Please come Saturday, September 8, so that we may say THANK YOU in person for these years.

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