Top Chef can be a life-changing experience, which two of this season's returning chefs, Brooke Williamson and Shirley Chung, are well aware of. We mean, when you come away with new culinary skills, new friends, and newfound fame, it's kind of hard to go back to the way things were before your Top Chef experience, isn't it?
For Shirley, who originally competed in Season 11 of Top Chef, her second helping of the culinary competition gave her a brand-new business partner: her husband, Jimmy Lee. "Right now I'm working on my new concept with my husband," Shirley updated The Feast on what she's been up to since this season of Top Chef ended, which also included a move from Orange County to Los Angeles. "We're working on a casual seafood concept, hopefully, in downtown L.A."
Shirley, who was first runner-up this season, said she was "super nervous" about going into business with her husband for the first time ever, but Brooke, who owns and operates several restaurants with her husband, Nick Roberts, tried to assuage her fears. "It's not so bad," she said.
Before this season of Top Chef, Shirley said she would have never thought of working with her husband because she calls him "a normal person." "He's a nine-to-fiver. I'm a chef," she said. "But now, I think this sort of experience inspired us that we really want to do something together and spend more time together."
Brooke has also been keeping busy since she was crowned Top Chef at the end of Season 14. She opened a fast-casual poke restaurant called Da Kikokiko in Playa Vista, California with her husband and is in the process of moving her Playa Del Rey culinary store, Tripli-Kit, to a larger location, which will also include a new coffee and wine bar. Brooke made her triumphant return to the James Beard House to prepare a dinner at the end of February.
A book could also be in the works in the future, Brooke teased. "Lots of fun, exciting stuff," she told The Feast. "I feel like I'm kind of perpetually moving forward, whether or not my plate is full."
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