50 Years of Sur la Table: 5 Recipes to Celebrate Our Anniversary
Back in 1972, while the world was captivated by “The Godfather” and rocking out to “Ziggy Stardust” and Don McLean, something was blossoming in the still very young city of Seattle.
A woman by the name of Shirley Collins had her sights set on founding the city’s first kitchenware and cookware store. She chose a name inspired by her love of French cooking: Sur La Table.
Soon, Sur La Table became one of the West Coast’s premier destinations for home cooks, professional chefs and food lovers—in fact, before the Pike Place location’s doors first opened, you couldn’t buy a Cuisinart food processor in the city!
Fifty years later, we’re still doing what we do best: creating happiness through making and sharing good food.
So, join us as we celebrate the last 50 years in the only way we know how—cooking.
The 1970s is a decade remembered for many things— “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” Watergate, the rise of bell-bottom jeans. But when it comes to food, one dish reigned supreme: fondue.
Originating from Switzerland and promoted by the Swiss Dairy Industry, this popular dish consists of melted cheese served in a communal bowl and eaten by dipping bread or other items like veggies into the cheese with long-stemmed forks.
To be honest, we’re always on board for an excuse to eat melted cheese so we understand why folks in the 70s were groovy for fondue. And since it’s a fun way to get dinner guests involved, we think it’s high time for a fondue renaissance.
1980s: French Onion Soup
Ah, French onion soup.
Though historically seen as food of the common folk (onions are plentiful and easy to grow), the classic French dish underwent a surge in popularity during the 80s due to a renewed interest in French cooking, à les chefs Jacques Pépin and the incomparable Julia Child.
And at a time when the economy was booming and opulence and excess abounded, it’s no surprise that a simple, yet delightfully delicious, dish would come out on top.
This dish strikes a delicate balance between sweet and savory, with crusty bread and a mingling of broth and spices, blanketed in a beautiful layer of salty, creamy Gruyère. It’s a perfect example of what the French do best: elevating the simple and making it timelessly elegant.
Back in the 90s, you couldn’t open an Italian restaurant’s menu without seeing a smattering of dishes boasting “sun-dried tomato” in one form or another.
Originating from Italy, sun-dried tomatoes had their day in the, well, sun when they started popping up on the shelves of specialty grocers like New York’s Dean & Deluca.
And for good reason—sun-dried tomatoes capture the sweetness of tomatoes with a tangy, intense flavor that’s honed through the drying process. Their caper-like flavor cuts through the cream in this sauce, adding a touch of brightness and balance to this otherwise heavy dish. Paired with seared shrimp and complemented by a touch of lemon and garlic, you’ll soon remember why you fell in love with sun-dried tomatoes in the first place.
It seemed like no matter where you dined, custard-based desserts were all the rage in the 2000s.
From crème brûlée to flan to budino, no matter the cuisine, you could find some sort of creamy, sweet, custardy dish gracing a restaurant’s dessert menu.
The pot de crème was no exception.
Similar to crème brûlée (except for that signature caramelized sugar), pots de crème utilize the same ingredients and baking techniques but with a silky and rich chocolate flavor. This recipe elevates the flavor profile with the addition of espresso powder, highlighting the chocolate’s subtle nutty notes.
Pair with vanilla ice cream for a classic dessert that will have you coming back for more.
Timeless: The Shirley Collins
Few things are as timeless as gin—in fact, the juniper-infused elixir has been gracing English palates since 1688!
And when you mix it up with freshly squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup and soda water, you get a classic cocktail—the Tom Collins—that’s beloved and ideal for any occasion. Only this one is inspired by our equally beloved founder, Shirley Collins.
With a sink of cherry heering, this recipe pays tribute to the trailblazer that Shirley was, as the founder of Seattle’s first kitchen and cookware store and as the first female in the state of Washington to apply for a bank loan.
She worked closely with the Friends of the Market in 1971 to preserve what would become one of the oldest continuously operated public famers markets in the country, Pike Place, and helped put Seattle in the minds of internationally renowned chefs like Jacques Pépin and Julia Child.
So, as we ring in the big 5-0, we raise this glass to Shirley Collins, without whom none of this—the cooking, the tips, the food the memories—would have been possible.