BROOKE WILLIAMSON & NICK ROBERTS
Amuse Café | Venice, CA
A native to Los Angeles, Brooke Williamson began her culinary career
working as a teacher’s assistant at the Epicurean Institute
of Los Angeles. It wasn’t until she began working as a pastry
assistant at Fenix at the Argyle Hotel that her creative energy
emerged and her talents were truly recognized. Soon after, under
the guidance of Ken Frank, Williamson won First Place in the Quady’s
Four Star Pastry Competition. It’s hard to believe she did
all this before age 19!
In 1998, acclaimed chef Michael McCarty quickly recognized the
star quality in Williamson and asked her if she would move to Santa
Monica and work at his nationally renowned restaurant, Michaels.
Williamson accepted with delight. While at Michael’s, her
remarkable skills and culinary intuition were highly praised and
rewarded. At the young age 20, she became that restaurant’s
youngest sous chef ever.
After two years at Michael’s, Williamson was appointed executive
chef at the sophisticated Los Angeles restaurant Boxer. Here, she
revamped the restaurant’s French-California menu with fresh
produce from local farmer’s markets and began to develop a
signature flavor profile using the most interesting ingredients
she could get her hands on.
Williamson continued to create inspired menus when she went to
work at Zax, in Los Angeles’ Brentwood neighborhood. As executive
chef, she raised the bar on seasonal American cuisine by infusing
local ingredients from southern California with diverse and global
flavors. At Zax, Williamson, who’s been deemed a culinary
wunderkind, was heralded by such esteemed publications as The
Los Angeles Times and Forbes.
Already far more accomplished than her young age would suggest,
after leaving Zax, Williamson and her fellow Zax partner Nick Roberts,
opened up Amuse Café in Venice, California. As part owner
and co-chef, Williamson is able to make administrative duties and
call the shots in the kitchen. Serving delightful, fresh, innovative
dishes every night, Williamson’s extraordinary and vibrant
talent proves that she has what it takes to stay on top of her game.
Growing up in Carmel, California, Nick Roberts was raised by
his family in Durney Vineyards, a pioneering wine operation in the
Carmel Valley. Surrounded by his family’s vineyard, his palate
for wine matured and developed with ease, but Roberts was more fascinated
His passion led him to The California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.
While at culinary school, Roberts was trained under some of the
best teachers, and their lessons paid off. Upon graduation, Roberts
headed to New York to work in such acclaimed restaurants as Union
Pacific, Ducasse, and Café Boulud.
When he returned to the west coast, Roberts worked briefly in the
pastry department of First Crush restaurant in San Francisco, but
soon headed to the kitchens of the prestigious Highlands Inn, located
in his hometown of Carmel. According to Roberts, it was at the Highland
Inn where his true culinary training began. Here, he was able to
absorb lessons on the international scale, including a rule that
he lives by to this day: “simplicity is key.”
In 2001, Roberts moved to southern California to work at Zax in
Brentwood, where he was quickly promoted to sous-chef. At Zax, Roberts
gained insight in American Bistro cuisine as well as business knowledge
on how to run a successful neighborhood restaurant with far-reaching
appeal. Here, Roberts met Brooke Williamson and the pair instantly
Roberts’ business savvy along with his culinary expertise
helped him greatly, as he and Brooke Williamson took on the roles
of co-owners and co-chefs at Amuse Café. Here at Amuse Café,
Roberts works hard fulfilling his passion for all things food.