According to manager Doralece Dullaghan, the depth of selection is what distinguishes Sur La Table from its obvious competitor, Williams-Sonoma. "They might have 20 kinds of cookie cutters," she says, "but we have 200 kinds." (On the other hand, Williams-Sonoma carries a wide variety of specialty food products, while Sur La Table carries "very few," according to Dullaghan.)
Sur La Table does resemble a cross between a Williams-Sonoma and a restaurant-supply company, and its vast selection does attract a variety of food professionals, says Dullaghan, from restaurant chefs to food stylists and journalists. But really the store is for "people who like to cook," she says. While some shoppers might initially be "overwhelmed by the number of choices" Sur La Table offers, they still partake in the "camaraderie of food" that fills the store. "I've got people who come in several times a week over their lunch hour just to look around," Dullaghan says. Then there's Pat Kuleto's wife, who snapped up a dozen or so copper pots and pans -- for their home kitchen.
Since the store opened late in October, business has been "fabulous," Dullaghan reports. The Berkeley store is only the second Sur La Table in the country; the original is in Seattle's Pike Place Market.
Will the company become the Starbucks of cooking gear, a growth-minded corporation spreading like crab grass? Not likely. According to Dullaghan, a developer asked Sur La Table to open at its Berkeley location: 1806 Fourth St. (at Hearst; 510/849-2252). It fits right in.
The Egg Exonerated?
Recent studies seem to redeem the egg, which other studies had damned as a fat-laden heart-buster. (As Mark Twain might have said, "There are lies, damned lies, and studies.")
For those who take no chances, there's Nulaid, a line of no-fat, no-cholesterol "egg products." (Sounds a bit like that famous "cheese food," Velveeta.) Nulaid's egg products are basically egg whites, tweaked with a bit of nonfat dry milk and some annatto coloring -- so it doesn't look like snot, presumably. There's also a cheese-flavored kind with which the adventurous can cook up that great oxymoron: the fat-free omelet.
By Paul Reidinger