Brooke Williamson may be running multiple restaurants, a culinary boutique, and a household, but the Los Angeles-based chef is still making time for sit-down dinners with her family and weekend hangouts on the beach.
Of course, it isn't always easy. Williamson and her husband, Chef Nick Roberts, opened their first gastropub, Hudson House, in 2009, and a second gastropub, Tripel, in 2011. Their newest business, Playa Provisions, is a four-in-one market space and eatery that offers ice cream, a breakfast, lunch, and dinner counter, a whiskey bar, and a high-end dining space. After coming in as the runner-up of Top Chef season 10, Williamson has also become a top celebrity chef.
If this sounds like quite the whirlwind, that's because it is. By age 6, Williamson knew she wanted to be a chef. Today, she's still driven to leave her mark on the culinary world—but not at the expense of her family. Here, she shares her lessons on striking a balance between being a chef, business owner, and mother.
Pick Your Priorities
Williams and Roberts share the same vision for what they want their lives to look like. That's important, because when you know what you want, you can start going after it—and focus less on the other stuff. "We both have the same goals, and part of that is being happy and enjoying life," Williamson says.
Let Go of Perfection
You can't always have—or do—it all, and that's okay! "Sometimes I feel like I'm crushing it, and then sometimes I feel like everything I do is, like, 60 percent," Williamson says. When you accept that not everything will get done, you're less likely to get stressed out over it.
Tag-Team It at Home
When it comes to taking care of their son Hudson, Williamson and Roberts are all about parenting as equals. At the same time, they're okay when one person has to step it up. Since Williamson started doing Top Chef and spending more time traveling, Roberts has picked up the slack at home.
Keep Meals Simple
Reconnecting with everyone at dinner doesn't require an elaborate meal. "I do a lot of one-pot meals because I hate doing the dishes," Williamson says. Often, she'll make soups, stews, or hearty dishes like turkey mushroom Bolognese. Since Hudson isn't a fan of whole tomatoes or herbs, she'll use a blender to puree them into a fine sauce. That way, she ends up with one meal that everyone will eat.
Schedule Solo Time
Working out helps Williamson feel her best, which means she can be her best with her family and her employees. "I know I can't maintain sanity without exercise, and that's how I clear my head," she says. Even though she doesn't have time for a sweat session every day, she plans morning workouts as often as she can.
Let Work and Family Blend Together
Keeping work at work and home at home isn't always realistic. Instead of trying to fight it, embrace it. Sometimes, Hudson comes with Williamson to one of the restaurants and spends time learning the tricks of the trade. "He'll be in the kitchen with the sous chef peeling shrimp, or hanging out with one of the general managers," she says.
Surround Yourself with Good People
Williamson knows that a boss or business owner is only as strong as their staff, so she makes employee well-being a priority. "Keeping our staff inspired and feeling like they're important is number one for making people feel valuable," she says.
Don't Try to Please Everyone
Williamson is unapologetic about the fact that she is who she is. "I put myself out there 100 percent, and if you enjoy what I do or who I am, then great. If not, perhaps my food isn't the food you should be eating, or I'm not the friend for you," she says. While she states her stance matter-of-factly, sticking to her values helps her stay focused and improves her customers' experience. Aiming to please everyone is a common pitfall in the restaurant industry, and it's only when you own who you are and what your restaurant stands for that you'll see success.