Spotlight // Brooke Larson
The thing about living in Los Angeles is that you never know who you’ll meet--and we’re not just talking celebrities. Excuse us for a moment while we let our inner foodies loose to gush over meeting one of Los Angeles’ top culinary artists, Brooke Larson, executive chef at The Cook is Brooke and star of the new web series, Saucy.
Larson’s creative approach transforms farmer’s market bounty into a sensory experience of fresh flavors and colors. Her love of condiments and sauces inspired Saucy, where she teaches you how to make dips, sauces, and dressings in minutes. Think beyond ketchup; we’re talking smashed pea salsa verde exploding with herbs, caramelized pear mustard, and sweet sea salt caramel.
She earned her chops training under James Beard award-winning chef Suzanne Goin of A.O.C. and Govind Armstrong of Table 8. It’s hard to tell what’s more impressive—her serious culinary street cred or her completely candid, zany personality.
We caught up with Chef Brooke to learn how to keep it Saucy.
Tell us about Saucy. An enjoyable meal to me is very textured, salty, sweet, and sour. My mouth has to work through different flavors, otherwise I get bored. Condiments help with this and that's what Saucy is. The episodes are 5-minute cooking shows that teach you how to make syrups, relishes, dips, marinades, BBQ sauces, ketchups, mustards, and other condiments such as Quickles (quick pickles). Coming up tomorrow is a cranberry relish for Thanksgiving.
The idea is to get families to eat together. Make a nice homemade meal and the adults and kids can enjoy making and using the condiments.
How did it get started? My friend of ten years, Josh Beane of Idea Farmer, was interested in doing a cooking show and said there’s no one else he wants to do it with. Suddenly I found myself in front of a camera and wearing makeup. After chugging a beer, the first episode took three hours to film, but now we have 21 episodes. We’ll see what happens, fingers are crossed. We’d love to have a Saucy club and Saucy dinners where we’d serve different foods with various condiments to match. It’s not a fad, it’s just how I like to eat.
What inspired you to become a chef? As a kid I always played the spice game with my friends. When we got bored. We’d put spices in those little soft boiled egg cups, shoot them, and guess what it was. I’d always guess right, my friends could never stump me. My mom always cooked homemade meals. She’d call from work and ask me to put the pot roast in the oven and I’d try out different seasonings on it.
I graduated high school, gave nursing school a go, but ended up in a catering job learning things like basic knife skills.
How would you describe your food? Rustic, seasonal, farm fresh whenever possible. California goodness with an emphasis on condiments. For example, I’ll do a roast chicken with vegetables and three sauces like a lemon gravy, a green goddess, and a salsa verde (the Italian version), my favorite condiment. I also like to BBQ and smoke things. Lately I’ve been smoking trout so my fingers are constantly black--grubby nubbies I call them.
What are your thoughts on the food scene? There are creative people in the food world, but it seems Los Angeles is oftentimes more about who ate in your restaurant, not how the food is.
What is your favorite dish? I love hash browns. In fact, I love anything with a potato. I make a hash brown every morning with tomatoes, scrambled eggs, and horseradish sauce. I could live on potatoes, kinda like Bubba Gump with shrimp.
What are you plans for the future? I would love to have a fabulous restaurant one day, but for now it’s head down with my grubby nubbies and cook like hell! I know the food will be a success. I’m proud of what I make.
New episodes of Saucy are available every Tuesday on www.keepitsaucy.com
Follow Chef Brooke Larson: Instagram // @thecookisbrooke & @saucykitchen www.thecookisbrooke.com
Photography by Shanna Fisher. Words by Christi Thompson.