Top Chef winner Brooke Williamson talks fame, food and fortune at Aspen Food & Wine Classic
The Aspen Times
Top Chef held a behind-the-scenes taping of its elimination challenge on Friday and The Aspen Times’ food columnist Amanda Rae was on-site.
Look out for a future edition of the Aspen Times Weekly for the inside scoop.
Brooke Williamson is still adjusting to the idea that people recognize and care who she is.
Indeed, a gaggle of foodies and fans flocked to the famous chef, eager to introduce themselves, sing her praises and, of course, pose with her for a photo following Williamson’s seminar Friday at the opening day of the Food & Wine Classic.
“It’s always so strange and astounding to me that people give a s— who I am,” the “Top Chef” season winner said after her seminar. “It’s like that times a thousand here.”
From a career standpoint, Williamson understands the significance of her presence in town this weekend.
“I think that Aspen Food & Wine is one of those career goals,” Williamson said. “Everyone knows about Aspen Food & Wine. It is the food and wine event of the year.”
The 35th annual Food & Wine Classic is Williamson’s first — and having earned her invitation makes it all the more sweet.
“Being here in this position, it’s very surreal,” she said.
The Los Angeles native’s success and rise to fame as a top female chef is also important within an industry that’s traditionally male-dominated.
But Williamson, who co-owns a few restaurants in California with her husband and co-chef, Nick Roberts, believes the gender discrepancy in the culinary field is changing.
“When I was 10, 11 years old, I knew I wanted to be a chef, and people looked at me like I was crazy,” the 38-year-old said.
“I used to hate acknowledging the fact that I was a female chef because I just wanted to be a chef,” Williamson said. “I think the landscape has changed a little bit in the last few years. I don’t necessarily think I’m the norm now, but I think it’s become less of a jaw-dropper when I walk into a room and myself introduce as a chef.”
No jaws dropped Friday when Williamson introduced herself before an audience at the cooking tent, whereby she whipped up a few ricotta and egg yolk-filled crepes with trout roe, chive cream and crispy prosciutto — a familiar dish to “Top Chef” fans in the crowd.
Williamson cracked eggs, jokes and kept the seminar short and savory, noting, “I’m very aware of the fact that … the only thing standing in the way of you getting back to the tent and drinking is me.”
“And that’s the same for myself, so …,” she quipped.
Throughout the 30-minute seminar, Williamson also talked “Top Chef,” which she appeared in during three seasons.
“‘Top Chef’ is fun and it changed my whole life. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for ‘Top Chef,’” Williamson said. “But I’m also really glad that it’s over and I’m really glad that it ended well.”
If you happen to spot Williamson sipping, sampling or strolling around town this weekend, do yourself a favor and do not ask her what her favorite food is — it’s her least favorite question.
However, if forced to select one last meal on Earth, ramen and donuts are the celebrity chef’s go-to.
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Cam Daniel is a former youth addiction counselor who’s been a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy for three years.