Peruvian scallops on the half shell.

Peruvian scallops on the half shell.

Top Chef winner and TV personality Brooke Williamson becomes the fourth visiting chef at Chicago’s Esquire by Cooper’s Hawk. The Season 14 Top Chef winner is one of the youngest women to cook at the prestigious James Beard House. Williamson has also appeared on Bravo’s “Top Chef Duels,” Esquire network’s “Knife Fight” and Food Network’s “Chopped” to name a few.

Williamson brings her love of coastal cuisine from Los Angeles’s Playa Provisions, her restaurant featuring four unique concepts under one roof. Her Chicago menu kicked off on January 12, and runs through May 18, 2023.

It is not often we have the opportunity to taste dishes cooked by celebrity chefs. This menu brings an opportunity to those who love cooking shows. I will be honest and say Brooke’s food was bright and delicious. Every single dish I tasted was inspired and full of fantastic flavors. After my first bite, I could tell why she has been so successful in culinary competitions.

Some of the highlights of our dinner include her Peruvian scallops served on the half shell. The scallop is served raw with navel orange nuoc cham and yuzu tobiko. It’s a flavor explosion that brings visions of dining on a sunny beach. I also loved her fried crab claw pops. It’s a twist on the crab cake that we all know and love but in a pop form. The claw is actually the utensil. It comes with a pickled habanero dipping sauce. I was expecting a lot of heat but there’s also a fantastic sweet element making it perfectly balanced. I loved it, and yes, I did double dip.

Molasses and mustard seed glazed Duroc pork shank

Molasses and mustard seed glazed Duroc pork shank.

For entrees, I recommend the molasses and mustard seed-glazed duroc pork shank. It comes with crispy garlic, Tokyo turnips, herbed barley and celery leaf. The pork is finish in the deep fryer, which gives a beautiful crackling on the edges. We all love crackling — plus the sweet molasses blends nicely with the meat. It’s a real winner. 

The triple burger made with prime beef, pork, and duck confit, savory apricot jam, truffle fontina, arugula on onion brioche bun with sweet po…

Every restaurant has a signature burger, and I was excited to try Williamson’s triple burger. The patty is a blend of prime beef, pork and duck confit topped with a savory apricot jam, truffle fontina and arugula on an onion brioche bun. This burger is both rich and savory. It would definitely win any burger competition. 

Let’s not forget the wine. Master Sommelier Emily Wines took me back to my Sicilian roots by pairing my pork shank with a Tornatore Rossa, a light-bodied red from Mt. Etna. I could taste the earthiness of the lava rich soil with my first sip. 

Esquire by Cooper’s Hawk is a great place to experience wine. They have over 1,600 unique bottles from around the world housed in a 50 foot wine tower.  Their tasting room is the perfect place to sip and learn about wine. Reserve your unique dining experience at Esquire, before Chef Brooke’s Williamson menu departs in May. Luckily, the wine will always be here. 

Hours of Operation: Monday - Thursday: 3 p.m. - 9 p.m

Friday - Saturday: 11 a.m. -10 p.m

Location:

Esquire by Cooper’s Hawk

58 E Oak Street Chicago, IL 60611

(312) 736 – 9999

Reservations: Open Table

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