Brooke Williamson

Remember when MTV was a lot of Real World, music videos and pimped out rides? Well, now the network has debuted a cooking show – House of Foodwhere the adorable Top Chef runner-up Brooke Williamson serves as a celebrity mentor. The chef will also open Playa Provisions this spring, a 4-in-1 restaurant project that includes everything from a back room whiskey bar to an ice cream shop. We caught up with Williamson at Perla on her trip to NYC. Turns out, the chef likes bourbon after a long day and is terrified of heights…

What would be your ideal food day?

A beautiful, crusty, warm plain croissant or a giant green juice (depending on how I felt when I woke up), followed by a ramen or dim sum lunch, followed by a glass of champagne with some fresh oysters. Then a late night dinner of cured meats and stinky cheese or some simple fresh pasta, rounded out with a slice of chocolate birthday cake or fresh rhubarb pie with vanilla ice cream.

Your most memorable Top Chef episode and why…

It would have to be the helicopter ride. Being terrified of heights, it’s something I would have never chosen to do on my own, but I will remember that beautiful ride – followed by dog sledding on a glacier – for the rest of my life. And I can now say that I’d do it again.

A childhood recipe that’s shaped your cooking…

I don’t think there is one specific recipe. However, the style and variety in which my mother cooked for us when I was a kid will forever shape the way I look at food and how I develop a menu. She cooked with soul and balance, and that is what I hope to accomplish with every dish that I create.

Your biggest priority every night at your restaurants…

Making sure that customers don’t leave unhappy. It’s more difficult than it sounds, and takes an attentive eye to notice sometimes.

Something at both your restaurants that screams you…

The wine by the glass and cocktail lists. I have yet to put a wine or cocktail on any of our lists that I wouldn’t enjoy drinking myself. Hudson House is a bit heavy on the gin, bourbon and bitter liquors, because that’s what I prefer to drink. As for wine, I like super food-friendly wines with lots of bright fruit, mineral, and acid.

Your cocktail after a long night…

A bourbon on the rocks, or a glass of Zweigelt (red wine).

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