From Cookware to Classes: the Culinary Wizards at Whisk Serve up an Experience
Tidy rows of delicate whisks hang whimsically from the ceiling of (the aptly named) Whisk, an independently run culinary school and retailer. It’s a feature co-owner and operator Don Perinchief said exemplifies its namesake. Suggested by their daughter, Don and his wife Ann Perinchief liked how the word serves as both a noun for all the cookware and kitchen gadgets displayed on its shelves - and a verb, for the wide variety of cooking lessons offered in its spacious professional kitchen.
“Whisk is for everyone – for those who love to entertain and want to refine their cooking skills, home chefs who want to keep up with cooking trends, aspiring cooks, and serious foodies alike,” reads the Whisk biography page.
Anyone who peruses the storefront will discover exactly that - something skillfully crafted that piques your interest, scratches a baking itch or inspires you to update your tablescape. And with boredom abound, the recent collision of office and home environments and an unusual holiday season on the horizon, there are plenty of reasons to explore all the amenities Whisk has to offer.
From a newly pioneered gift registry to guided cooking workshops, your yearly holiday shopping spree could practically wrap itself. Even though unwrapping a present has its own sweet satisfaction, gifts people can experience together, like cooking lessons, may be an especially coveted choice during a time when other activities are limited and staring competitions with the fridge seem like a daily battle. Amongst the upcoming classes Whisk offers: jump aboard the homemade bread craze with an introduction to baking sourdough, broaden your palate with a tour of signature Vietnamese street food, or discover a little respite from the winter weather with a fall harvest pumpkin risotto class. Or, perhaps, start with the simple necessities.
“We have one class called Fundamentals, which runs four consecutive Mondays,” Don explains, noting the course covers essential concepts and establishes a greater comfort level and familiarity in the kitchen. “It starts with knife skills and then moves to sauces and eggs.”
Indicative of its slogan, “learn, cook, entertain,” Don and Ann made certain that the unique educational component at Whisk leaned into a universal curiosity, passion and creativity shared around food that Don said encourages active participation in an immersive way - it places each person in the driver's seat. Discouraged by the cooking instruction she found in the greater Seattle area, Ann said they both pivoted from corporate jobs as Eddie Bauer executives to launch a business venture that aims to demystify the gravitas and snobbery around cooking and reframe the focus around refining current skills. Whether your eight-year-old likes to experiment in the kitchen or your household menu could benefit from some fresh recipes, Whisk’s classes are curated for a broad range of age groups, interests and levels of experience.
Like many businesses, the pandemic poised a unique challenge for Whisk. Before gearing up to open their doors again back in June, Don and Ann had to grapple with certain transformations to their business model. For one, Don said class sizes were reduced by nearly half, now with eight registrants spread out across multiple stations to maintain social distancing measures. Each designated area, indicated by markers on the floor, is equipped with hand sanitizer and separate appliances, cookware and pre measured ingredients in disposable containers that cater to a self-service format and minimize foot traffic around the kitchen.
“We've always been kind of hypersensitive to cleanliness,” Don said, an assurance that might seem somewhat self-explanatory yet still critical in an environment where raw ingredients are handled and prepared.
While their doors remained shuttered on a three month hiatus during the economic shutdown, Whisk weathered the pandemic by promoting gift certificates, transitioning inventory to an e-commerce platform, piloting online tutorials taught by different staff members in a state-of-the-art facility (which are still available by request) and through an email campaign to circulate comforting family recipes once a week.
“The response has been unbelievable,” Ann said. “People have thanked us for sending something new and fun to look forward to… the reaction has been really positive.”
Additionally, Whisk partnered with a family-owned and operated flower farming business, PK Garden - best known locally as a beloved vendor at the Bellevue Farmers Market. Over the weekends, the florists would set up shop outside Whisk and several other storefronts in the Downtown area to peddle seasonal bouquets and brighten an otherwise bleak moment in time.
Back to present time: over the next several weeks, classes geared toward staple holiday desserts are expected to fill up quickly! Round up the kids for a crash course in crafting delicious seasonal pastries like gingerbread cookies and crowd-favorite apple pies coached by Pastry Chef Thanh Tang, who shares a few trade secrets in nailing that perfectly woven lattice and flaky pie dough guaranteed to delight at any Thanksgiving feast! Either way, check out Whisk for amazing kitchen wares and a cooking class to gift (or for yourself).
This blog is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.