Month: December 2015

Chuck Williams – founder of Williams-Sonoma

Charles E. Williams, founder of Williams-Sonoma and the man responsible for introducing French cookware and high-end ingredients into American kitchens, died peacefully in his sleep early Saturday. He had recently turned 100. Mr. Williams, who was known to everyone as Chuck, bought an old hardware store in Sonoma in 1956 and began filling it with the copper and enamel ware he’d seen while traveling through Europe. He ignited America’s enthusiasm for cooking and quickly turned his own passion into a highly successful retail and mail-order business, one that now boasts 623 stores, including Pottery Barn and West Elm. “He just loved food and entertaining,” said Mary Risley, a close friend of Mr. Williams who formerly ran Tante Marie’s Cooking School and still teaches classes out of her home. Risley first met Mr. Williams when the two were neighbors on Nob Hill and shopped at a grocery store nearby. “The store put produce out front, but the better stuff was in the back,” Risley recalls. “Chuck and I would meet going through the tomatoes in the back room. We knew all …