Chef Brooke Williamson could easily be considered the Doogie Howser of cooking (if Doogie Howser had actually been cool). The Los Angeles native was a teacher’s assistant at the Epicurean Institute of Los Angeles at a young age, and at 19 won first place in the Quady’s Four Star Pastry Competition. After reaching Executive Chef status at 22 and working at such acclaimed restaurants as Michael’s in Santa Monica and Daniel in New York city, the chef—deemed a “culinary mastermind” by the Los Angeles Times and Forbes—went on to open American gastropub Hudson House in Los Angeles in 2009. Her most recent endeavor is Tripel in Playa Del Rey, CA., where she’s gathering inspiration from good food, wine and beer, and another potential prodigy in the making, her son Hudson. We caught up with Chef Williamson to get her to take our culinary lightning round.
1. What’s an underrated food city and why?
I recently visited Louisville, KY. and was incredibly impressed by the food and bar scene. The bar aspect didn’t surprise me of course, but the incredible concentration of great food and restaurant concepts really blew me away.
2. What food/food trend are you tired of?
Smoke. I’m a fan of smoke done well, but it seems that a lot of chefs are gratuitously smoking things just to add another element to a plate.
3. How do you feel about Yelp?
It’s a necessary evil. It gives people the power to badmouth restaurants anonymously. If someone’s had a bad experience I absolutely want to know about it, but there are other methods of letting us know and giving us the opportunity to rectify the situation without it being public. It has made everyone an “expert critic”… However, it is still my go to app for finding a spot in an area I’m unfamiliar with. Guilty.
4. If your kitchen is burning down, what’s the one gadget you save?
My Vitamix. I wouldn’t really call it a gadget, but I think that’s the same reason why I would save it. The versatility with this thing is endless!
5. Your guilty pleasure food?
Donuts, shrimp chips, and a Jif peanut butter and bacon sandwich. And no, I’m not pregnant.
6. If you could cook for one person—who would it be and what would you make them?
I would cook a seven-course meal for Liberace, using only recipes from his cookbook Liberace Cooks. And each course would need to be served in a different one of his seven dining rooms at his house. And there you have it.
7. What are five ingredients that are always in your pantry?
Good olive oil, fish sauce, dark chocolate, finishing sea salt, and ranch dressing.
8. What’s the one mistake most amateur chefs make?
Over-complicating a dish. You don’t need to show off every technique you know on one plate to make it taste good. Most ingredients taste great all on their own.
9. What’s the best advice you ever received?
When you stop enjoying what you’re doing, do something else, or it will show.
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