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When Chef Brooke Williamson of Top Chef season 10 fame and her husband bought their house in LA five years ago, it wasn’t the house of their dreams, but it did allow them to build their dream kitchen with plentiful natural light, an island, and a garden.

Now Brooke and her husband, Nick Roberts, also a chef, come home after cooking all day at their restaurant Playa Provisions and look forward to whipping up something delicious as a family. Even their 12-year-old son gets in on the fun. “Having a really clean, functional space to cook together in really enables us to be creative,” Brooke says.

Pink Breakfast Smoothie

“Being at a cutting board is my happy place,” says Chef Brooke Williamson. EDITOR’S PICK: The Hi-Low Cutting Board ($14.99) from Tovolo® has a raised section for dry ingredients and a lower concave section that collects juices so you can prep multiple ingredients at once without cross-contamination.

Brooke, who’s also the youngest female chef to cook at the James Beard House, says having the right tools—utensils you use every day rather than gadgets that clutter drawers most of the year—keeps the kitchen organized. “Keep things simple,” she says.

That goes for the actual recipe, too. She says hours spent toiling away over an elaborate recipe doesn’t equate creativity, and many people overthink cooking. “Don’t overcomplicate with too many ingredients and too many steps.”

Silicone Tongs Pasta

Cooking doesn’t have to mean making a mess. Tovolo’s Silicone Tip Top Tongs ($10.99) have a built-in resting foot that lifts them up to keep your countertop clean.

At Brooke’s house you’ll often find a full rice cooker. She loves to go back for leftovers and clean out the fridge, combining things to make delicious fried rice.

She says people often ask for the recipes behind her Instagram posts and she laughs, saying when she cooks at home, she goes out to her garden and uses what she has. “We eat a lot of really simple, clean food at home,” Brooke says. There’s often no recipe at all. After a week in Montana, for example, the family returned home and Brooke stepped outside to assess their garden before dinner.

“There were tons of tomatoes and onions and herbs. I didn’t want it to go bad so I threw it all in a pot and made tomato sauce. People asked, ‘What’s your recipe?’ Honestly my recipe is: ‘Use things up.’” She says a little trial and error goes a long way, rather than mimicking someone else. “Have the confidence and flexibility to pivot and be creative and trust your instincts.”

Pink Vegan Donuts

It’s easy to whip up some eggs, dessert, or even a fresh marinade with Tovolo’s durable Stainless Steel 6-inch Mini Whisk ($8.99).

Having a small garden is great inspiration for both home-cooked meals and the seasonal menu at Playa Provisions, Brooke says. “Don’t underestimate how far simplicity goes. It doesn’t need to be something that takes you hours. And visually—fresh, bright, clean, seasonal ingredients make a dish impressive.”

A version of this article originally appeared in Sixtysix Issue 05 with the headline “Cooking Clean and Simple.” Subscribe today.


Produced by Studio Sixtysix
Photos courtesy of Tovolo
Words by Laura Rote
Art Direction by Kristina Walton Zapata
Studio Sixtysix is the in-house creative agency to Sixtysix magazine. Studio Sixtysix stories are conceived, produced, and edited by Studio Sixtysix.