Brooke Williamson makes holiday cooking fun and festive

Brooke Williamson, shares holiday cooking tips during a Chase Sapphire event, photo provided by Chase
Brooke Williamson, shares holiday cooking tips during a Chase Sapphire event, photo provided by Chase /

For Brooke Williamson, the holiday table is filled with food, friendship and fun.

From her celebrated restaurants to her food television titles, Brooke Williamson is a force in the culinary community. Long before she was Top Chef or a Food Network champion, Williamson honed her skills in the Los Angeles food scene. As the holiday season approaches, Williamson took a little time to cook with a good friend and share some holiday cooking tips.

Recently, Brooke Williamson and Awkwafina hosted a Friendsgving online cooking demo for Chase Sapphire. Between the laughs, witty banter and a few cooking mishaps, the two friends showed that holiday cooking is more about the enjoying the moment than perfection on the plate.

Ahead of the cooking demo, Williamson graciously took a few moments to chat about her holiday cooking plans, some recommendations for the holiday feast and even a story that might a few home cooks feel better about cooking this holiday season.

Williamson admitted that everyone understands that this holiday season will look different from years past. Still, she encourages others to “take stock of where we are.” Instead placing blame on the hand that everyone is dealt, it is “time to focus on the positive.” It is time to turn away from the frustration and be thankful. Putting the grateful into the conversation is more important than ever.

For Williamson, the holidays were often a time to reconnect with family and friends. Similar to her idea of focusing on gratitude, she believes that this holiday season is a way to have more quality time with loved ones. With fewer people around the table, she will have more time to enjoy those one on one conversations with family and friends.

Williamson said by “eliminating the cross talk” at the table this year, she has an opportunity to share “how grateful she is to have them around.” Still, that connection isn’t just limited to the people at the table.

For example, Williamson references that “creating a dish that your grandparents made” is a way to bring that sense of nostalgia and connection to the holiday celebration. Again, the perspective around the gathering and the holiday cooking matters.

Williamson realizes that over the past year, people have familiarized themselves with their kitchens and have expanded their cooking repertoire. She believes that this situation has been a benefit and has even connected people to their families more.

As she plans her holiday cooking and holiday table, she believes that the meal should be based in foods that you love. With a smaller gathering, it means that you don’t have to have cranberry sauce if you don’t like eating it.

For her family, there is an acorn squash recipe that has been a family favorite. That side dish will be on the table. Again, it is the childhood memories that can make that food even more special.

Even in the Chase Sapphire cooking demo, she showed how a traditional side dish doesn’t have to be that same recipe. Mashed potatoes can be souffle potatoes. The holiday table is about celebrating the togetherness not certain mandatory foods because it is a holiday food tradition.

With more people preparing for holiday cooking, Williamson did have a few simple tips for any cook. She recommended to prepare early. From shopping before Thanksgiving day to prepping food sooner, little steps can make a big difference on the day.

More importantly, her menu does take into consideration the food after the feast. Like many chefs, Williamson believes that there should be no food waste. That holiday meal can be transformed into sandwiches, stocks and a variety of meals for several days.

Still, not every holiday meal goes as planned. Even a Top Chef has had a bad day in the kitchen. Williamson mentioned that when she was in college, she didn’t plan ahead. From a frozen turkey to forgetting to clean the inside of the turkey, that one holiday meal, served at midnight, was one for the memory books.

Although that meal might not have gone as planned, it did create a lasting food memory. Just as seen in the Chase Sapphire cooking demo, perfection in the kitchen is not the goal. The laughter and memories will last much longer than that feeling of eating potatoes straight from the oven.

If you need some cooking inspiration from Brooke Williamson and Awkwafina, you can watch their cooking demo on Chase Sapphires’ You Tube Channel. Pour yourself a cocktail and enjoy the holidays.

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How has your holiday cooking evolved this year?