5 Questions for Brooke Williamson and Nick Roberts
Brooke Williamson and Nick Roberts are the chef couple behind Hudson House gastropub in Redondo Beach and the Tripel, a craft beer and wine bar in Playa del Rey. Williamson worked her way up the kitchen ranks at restaurants such as Michael's in Santa Monica, Daniel in New York, then Boxer and Zax in L.A. again, before opening Amuse Cafe and Beechwood in Venice along with Roberts. Roberts worked at Union Pacific and Café Boulud in New York and was chef at Highlands Inn Restaurant in Carmel before teaming with Williamson. Now the two share all of the duties at their restaurants, including cooking, creating cocktails and overseeing service.
What’s coming up next on your menu? For a couple of menu procrastinators who don't actually have a menu on paper until the day before it's changing ... we do know that we are lacking at the moment some of our favorite winter ingredients, which will inevitably make an appearence on the next menu. Such as Brussels sprouts, celery root and, of course, our good old faves parsnips and kale (which may come in a crispy chip manner). We are also looking forward to the yummy citrus that comes around right now, especially grapefruit and beautiful Meyer lemons that may make their way onto the cocktail list as well.
Latest ingredient obsession? Nick: Persimmons have been on the brain lately ... of all shapes and sizes, as well as mushrooms and kale (although that's not unusual for either of us).
Brooke: I have been making lots of brothy soups with both mushrooms and kale. Healthy and tasty and very versatile ... good with miso and udon or chicken and matzo balls! Oh, and bottarga — can't get enough of it! As with salt cod, but that's nothing new.
The one piece of kitchen equipment you can’t live without, other than your knives? Fish spatula, spoons and a microplane.
The last cookbook you read – and what inspired you to pick it up? Brooke: "Made in America." I was interested in seeing the compilation of different styles and techniques used by so many great chefs from across the country/world.
Nick: "Brewmaster's Table." Great book about beer and food and relates so closely to what we do.
What chef has most influenced you? Brooke: I would say with as much as I have learned from the chefs that I have worked for, there were just as many sous chefs and cooks that influenced me just as much. I would say, however that Michael McCarty and Ken Frank gave me opportunities that I could never thank them enough for.
Nick: For me I would say Phil Baker, John Gerber and my grandmother, not a professional chef but one hell of a cook.
Hudson House, 514 N. Pacific Coast Hwy., Redondo Beach, (310) 798-9183, www.hudsonhousebar.com. The Tripel, 333 Culver Blvd., Playa del Rey, (310) 821-0333, www.thetripel.com.
-- Betty Hallock
Photo: Nick Roberts and Brooke Williamson. Credit: tasteterminal.com.