We’re sad to note the passing of Chuck Williams. He was a culinary innovator who built a lasting legacy on a simple idea: provide top quality cooking and ingredient essentials to chefs and home cooks.
Over the last year, we’ve had the privilege to work with the Williams-Sonoma team in celebrating Chucks’ 100th birthday. It has been a fun look back at his life and achievements as well as how he has affected our own lives and company.
Our company has been crafting fine vanillas and flavors since 1907. But, up until 1980, we focused on working with bakeries, chefs and food manufacturers. After discovering our vanilla at a cooking school, Chuck Williams had the insight that discerning home cooks would love our pure vanilla extract. We can actually remember the dinner conversation in which our dad, second-generation owner, Chat Nielsen, Jr. announced that “some guy” called and wanted to put our vanilla in his stores.
That phone call was the beginning of a successful business relationship (we’re a Williams-Sonoma Heritage brand and have been their exclusive vanilla ever since), but it also began our long-lasting friendship with Chuck. We’ll greatly miss him. And yet, while he may no longer be with us, his influence will live on in our hearts and our kitchens.