New Gourmandise store offers culinary items for foodies and chefs
By Elizabeth M. Johnson
For shoppers still looking for the perfect last-minute gift for the foodie on their list, a new retail store at Santa Monica Place has an array of cooking-themed items recipients will savor.
The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories, which has been offering cooking classes and private parties on the third level of Santa Monica Place since 2011, launched Gourmandise in mid-November. The shop offers professional-grade cookware and bakeware, cookbooks, custom-made gift kits and unique virtual class offerings—perfect for those who have taken up cooking and baking during the pandemic.
Sabrina Ironside, co-owner and general manager of The Gourmandise School, says that the shopping center’s offer of the first floor space just in time for the holidays “could be the best thing that’s ever happened to us.”
“Before the pandemic, we focused on classes and private events,” Ironside says. “Now we have to pivot and focus on retail. We never had time to do it before, so we are enjoying the opportunity to create a beautiful retail space.”
For years, the cooking school has offered in-person cooking and baking classes taught by chef-owner Clémence Gossett and a staff of instructors. Just two years ago, the school expanded its kitchen space on the third floor of Santa Monica Place to better accommodate its thriving school, private events and classes. A tiny retail area allowed class members to purchase a limited selection of items to continue their culinary adventures at home.
“With the pandemic, we took all our classes and private parties online; there was no traffic to the third floor,” Ironside notes. “The new shop gives us more room in a heavily trafficked area. We’ve created a homey space with a charming, warm feel. So far, we’ve been getting lots of great feedback.”
Ironside explains that the shop includes items that professionals would use such as heavy-gauge aluminum sheet pans that could be used in a bakery, high-quality parchment paper, and chocolate from premium chocolate makers like Cordillera and Republica del Cacao.
The store also offers cookbooks from local Santa Monica authors and restaurants. A pantry section highlights Gourmandise’s relationships with local food sources, including locally pressed olive oil, Malibu honey, and several varieties of flour from Grist & Toll flour mill in Pasadena.
Gourmandise can put together custom kits from products in the store and offers five kits that reflect the most popular customer requests including an introduction to breadmaking kit, sourdough kit, pie kit, cookie kit and a French macaron kit. These kits range in price from $42 to $75 and can be shipped anywhere.
The French Macaron Kit comes with all the tools needed to make the delectably beautiful treats, plus almond flour. It includes a heavy-gauge aluminum sheet pan, eco-friendly parchment paper, high heat silicone spatula, piping tips and bags, and a sifter.
Another favorite is the Cookie Kit, which contains the recipe for some of the tastiest chocolate chip cookies ever, since they are made with the premium Cordillera chocolate that comes with the kit. It includes 65% Cordillera Colombian Chocolate, Vollrath 3/4 oz. scooper, heavy gauge aluminum quarter sheet pan, eco-friendly parchment paper, flaked salt and finishing salt.
“We love when people call and ask for gift ideas,” Ironside says. “We can create custom gift boxes from anything in the store and even include a gift certificate for one of our classes with the items.”
The cooking class gift certificates never expire and can be used for online or in-person classes once they return to that format. For the online classes, participants receive a class outline, recipe, and list of ingredients and equipment, along with a Zoom link. Class size is limited to 30 people to promote interactivity during the sessions, which run from 75 minutes to two hours.
“Even though people are a little Zoomed out right now, we are still offering up to six classes a day,” Ironside says. “Our croissant class is our most popular right now. It sells out every time we offer it.”
Other baking class topics include French macarons, challah, brioche and babka, and gluten-free baking. Savory classes include Sushi 101, Chinese Dumplings, French Bistro Dinner, and a “What’s for Dinner?” class with various menu items. There are even teen classes, parent and child sessions, and multi-week series for cooking and baking.
The most popular items sold since Gourmandise opened its doors in mid-November are its gourmet chocolate and many varieties of flour. Another hot item is a whimsical bacon press, which flattens bacon as it cooks. For a unique stocking stuffer, Ironside recommends the hot toddy mix: a “super yummy and fun” concoction of lemon, ginger and honey.
The store continues to welcome in-person business, even with the governor’s recent stay-at-home order. Retail capacity is limited to 20%, which for Gourmandise is fewer than 10 people at a time.
“That’s manageable for us right now,” Ironside says. “We want to be as accommodating as possible, so we encourage customers to call in their order if they don’t feel comfortable shopping in person. We offer curbside pickup and can ship to anyone, anywhere.”
Where: 395 Santa Monica Place, #126
Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. daily