1 Brooke Williamson  Kitchen 1430

#CaviarHolidays Q&A with the Chefs


Brooke Williamson, 40

PROFESSION: Chef / Restaurateur

WHAT DO THE HOLIDAYS MEAN TO YOU? I love the entire season. I love the weather. I actually seek out the snow at least twice a year, being a native Angelino. But I think, most of all, they mean giving—not only to my friends and family but to people who need our support the most.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY TRADITION? Baking fresh doughy chocolate chip cookies for Santa.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY RECIPE? With that said, I should really follow this up with my chocolate chip cookie recipe.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY FOOD MEMORY? As a little girl, my parents used to throw an amazing Christmas party every year, and inevitably some of the chocolate bûche de Noël would be left over. I would wake up early every year and eat the leftover chocolate cake before anyone got out of bed.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BEING IN THE KITCHEN? I somehow find calm in chaos. The kitchen is the only place where I can get out of my head and think clearly.

WHAT THREE INGREDIENTS ARE ALWAYS IN YOUR KITCHEN? Fish sauce, avocado oil, and peanut butter.

WHAT’S YOUR FOOD PHILOSOPHY? Food should be about joy and bringing people together. But I try not to overthink it.

HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHAT TO CREATE USING ALTERNA’S INGREDIENTS? The list of ingredients in the products reflects what I use regularly. My only obstacle was to find a way not to use them all at once! As I cook seasonally, I just mixed the ingredients that spoke to me with something seasonal. That’s often how I compose a dish.

WHAT’S THE BEST HOLIDAY GIFT YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED? A handmade ornament from my son. It hangs on our Christmas tree every year.

WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB? No two days are the same.

WHAT’S YOUR HAIR ROUTINE? I work out regularly, so I wash my hair more often than I really should. I just leave a touch of conditioner in and throw it into a top knot most of the time. However, if there is any reason to look presentable, I’ll jump at the chance to blow dry it with a beachy wave or braid it. I’m a sucker for a good French braid.

WHAT ARE YOUR HAIR CHALLENGES? I have a ton of hair, so blow-drying takes forever. Hence the fallback top knot.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE ALTERNA PRODUCTS? I love the restructuring conditioner and the shine spray. I’ve also really got into the styling mousse, as I find it holds my beachy waves longer.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR HAIR? The abundance of hair is a love-hate. As challenging as it is to have so much hair, I never struggle to find volume.

WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL BEAUTIFUL? Exercising! I never feel better about myself than after a good workout.

WHAT EMPOWERS YOU? Knowing what I’m talking about. I try to stay educated and up to date on as much as I can. Being able to hold an intelligent, opinion-driven conversation makes me feel great.

WHAT ARE YOUR BEAUTY SECRETS? I don’t really have any really. I love a good face mask or a facial, but I don’t have any secrets.

DO YOU HAVE A QUOTE THAT REPRESENTS WHO YOU ARE? Nerves are good—they are a sign that you care.


Bricia Lopez, 34

PROFESSION: Restaurateur / Creator

WHAT DO THE HOLIDAYS MEAN TO YOU? Holidays are my favorite time of the year. Though it’s one of the busiest times for us, there is something extremely peaceful about it. My parents fly in from Oaxaca and all of our family is together again. It means being able to share my dinner table with everyone I love while catching up and reminiscing about the past year, and dreaming about our future.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY TRADITION? I love decorating my home for the holidays: putting up lights outside, buying a tree, and making the entire house more beautiful together as a family. We always end the day with a great meal, sitting out front and looking at the home we’ve built and created as a family. Warms my heart every time.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY RECIPE? My mom’s green spaghetti. It’s made with a poblano pepper puree and is absolutely perfect.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY FOOD MEMORY? The smell of fresh ponche in the morning after our family parties in Oaxaca. I grew up with dozens of cousins and uncles. Every Christmas was filled with food, drinks, and candy. It was incredible.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BEING IN THE KITCHEN? I love being in control and the idea of creating something out of nothing. It’s an amazing place to be creative. I forget about time and place, I just cook. It’s awesome.

WHAT THREE INGREDIENTS ARE ALWAYS IN YOUR KITCHEN? Sea salt, olive oil, lemons.

WHAT’S YOUR FOOD PHILOSOPHY? Cook from the heart. Use the best ingredients and never pretend to be anyone but yourself.

HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHAT TO CREATE USING ALTERNA’S INGREDIENTS? When I read over the ingredients and saw the word avocado, my brain immediately clicked and I knew that avocado was going to be the star of the dish. So I built the dish around it, incorporating the acidity from the raspberries, crunch from the toasted brown rice, and brightness from the beet puree and greens.

WHAT’S BEST HOLIDAY GIFT YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED? A Barbie Domino’s Pizza set from my dad when I was 10 years old. It was the first Christmas we spent in the States and my first official Barbie set. My dad took me to Toys R Us, and I felt like I had gone to heaven. I had never been to a toy store of that size in my life. I remember holding the box and feeling like the luckiest girl in the world.

WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB? Sharing my culture and food with the world.

WHAT’S YOUR HAIR ROUTINE? I wash my hair every three days and do deep conditioning once a week. I like to comb it through before I jump in the shower. I wash with shampoo twice and always allow the conditioner to stay in my hair for at least two minutes before rinsing. I love using products from Alterna’s Anti-Frizz collection as well as a Bond Repair Mousse all over my hair before blow-drying it. After a very light all-over blow-dry, I comb it through and do a proper blow-dry using my hands to spread the air throughout my hair. Once that’s done, I may or may not do a light beach wave and finish it off with some texture spray.

WHAT ARE YOUR HAIR CHALLENGES? Because I love when my hair is on the light side, split ends might occur if I don’t maintain my hair care. I also have a few small flyaways by my forehead that never tamed after I had my son.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE ALTERNA PRODUCTS? Anti-Frizz Balm and CC Cream.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR HAIR? The texture, cut, and ability to reinvent itself with ease.

WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL BEAUTIFUL? Going out on dates with my husband, getting glammed up, putting on my high heels, and doing my hair and makeup. I love getting ready and feeling sexy.

WHAT EMPOWERS YOU? Growing, learning, and achieving anything I once thought of as impossible.

WHAT ARE YOUR BEAUTY SECRETS? I get facials religiously once a month at @afterglowbeverlyhills, never ever go to bed before cleansing my face, and wear SPF rain or shine.

DO YOU HAVE A QUOTE THAT REPRESENTS WHO YOU ARE? Believe in who you are meant to be, work towards that everyday, and watch magic happen.


Candace Nelson, 44

PROFESSION: Pastry Chef / Food Entrepreneur

WHAT DO THE HOLIDAYS MEAN TO YOU? Everything! They are about gratitude and spending special time with family and friends. And for baking!

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY TRADITION? I love baking and decorating sugar cookies with my two sons. When we were growing up, my sister and I made them every holiday season with our mom, and I love continuing the tradition with my own family.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY RECIPE? I adore a crisp buttery sugar cookie, decorated with royal icing. I love to pair it with rich drinking chocolate.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY FOOD MEMORY? Baking and decorating sugar cookies with my mom. Every year, I looked forward to pulling out cookie cutters. Then my sister and I would fight over our favorites!

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BEING IN THE KITCHEN? I love feeling completely comfortable in my space. Cooking with a glass of wine in hand, good music playing, and the kids running around the backyard is my happiest place.

WHAT THREE INGREDIENTS ARE ALWAYS IN YOUR KITCHEN? Séka Hills Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Murray River Salt, Valrhona 70% Guanaja Chocolate Feves.

WHAT’S YOUR FOOD PHILOSOPHY? “One cannot think well, love well, and sleep well if one has not dined well.” — Virginia Woolf

HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHAT TO CREATE USING ALTERNA’S INGREDIENTS? I couldn’t wait to create a cupcake from all the luscious edible ingredients that go into Alterna’s products. Honey, lemon, and chamomile are all so fragrant and translate beautifully into a cake!

WHAT’S THE BEST HOLIDAY GIFT YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED? There’s nothing more precious than the gift of time with family.

WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB? I love working in food and hospitality because it’s about taking care of people.

WHAT’S YOUR HAIR ROUTINE? I wash and condition my hair every other day. On days that I’m not doing media, I try to air-dry to give my hair a styling break. I also use protein packs and Olaplex for conditioning and strengthening.

WHAT ARE YOUR HAIR CHALLENGES? I have fine hair, so I am focused on adding volume.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE ALTERNA PRODUCTS? Caviar Anti-Aging Bodybuilding Volume Shampoo. It gives my fine hair fullness and volume!

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR HAIR? I love that my hair has natural wave and texture, which gives it lots of personality.

WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL BEAUTIFUL? Being among people I love and feeling healthy.

WHAT EMPOWERS YOU? I have an amazing group of entrepreneurial female friends who inspire and empower me every day.

WHAT ARE YOUR BEAUTY SECRETS? Sunscreen, sunscreen, and sleep!

DO YOU HAVE A QUOTE THAT REPRESENTS WHO YOU ARE? Attitude is everything.