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Celebrity Grub

Watch Awkwafina Make Friendsgiving Dishes With Chef Brooke Williamson In This Hilarious Cookalong

This Friendsgiving season, things might be a little more different for many of us, especially with the vicious pandemic still active. Our gatherings may be much smaller if they even happen at all, and many of us will have to rely on our own two hands in case that top chef friend isn’t coming this year. 

For those stressing over such a feat, the cavalry’s arrived. 

Photo courtesy of Chase Sapphire

Awkwafina is teaming up with lauded chef Brook Williamson, in a partnership with Chase Sapphire, to create a Friendsgiving-themed cook along.

The pair will be tackling dishes like cheesy souffle potatoes with mushroom gravy and a spicy pomegranate mezcal margarita. 

“There’s this kind of emphasis lately with staying indoors while still exploring what’s possible for trying to make those connections with the outer world. And we really can’t do that nowadays without a system,” Awkwafina told Foodbeast. 

While an artist of many talents, Awkwafina admits she’s not the best in the kitchen.

“My relationship with food and cooking was not a great one,” she laughed. 

 “I was raised by my Chinese grandma, who pretty much dominated the kitchen and wouldn’t let me cook because she thought I would mess everything up.” 

Photo courtesy of Chase Sapphire

Fans of Awkwafina’s Comedy Central series Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens may remember a scene where Nora and Cousin Edmund were making dumplings. Nora, played by Awkwafina, was failing pretty terribly at stuffing and folding the dumplings. 

Awkwafina revealed to us this actually happened growing up. Once, her grandmother even had to scold her for eating a dumpling raw in front of guests. ”I love food. I love all kinds of foods. I’m not a picky eater.” 

“Last [Friendsgiving], I’m going to be honest, I ordered 500 Korean fried chicken wings out of pure laziness,” she admitted. “Friendsgiving, I think, is always better than a normal family Thanksgiving, it’s a little bit looser. It’s a little less formal, which is nice about it.” 

Photo courtesy of Chase Sapphire

Sure many of us won’t be able to spend Friendsgiving, or even Thanksgiving, with our loved ones due to current circumstances.

That doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal with digital media assistance and celebrate with them regardless. 

“The best thing I learned from Chef Brook from our Friendsgiving is that she said something really interesting: ‘Cooking is knowing what you like in outside places and duplicating them with your own items. You can recreate it at home and add more of what you like.’ 

Photo courtesy of Chase Sapphire

Before parting ways, I asked Awkwafina if there was any bit of culinary advice she could give us from her experiences. 

“Definitely don’t add seltzer to an alcohol shaker because that’s an explosion.” 

Check out the hilarious digital cook along in the video above. Maybe it’ll spark some culinary inspirations, perhaps it’ll calm your nerves this holiday season, or maybe it’ll just make you laugh. Stay safe out there, everyone. 

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Union Restaurant’s Third Anniversary Brings Out All-Star Lineup Of Chefs

Three years ago Union Restaurant opened its doors in the heart of Old Town Pasadena.

Acclaimed Chef Bruce Kalman and Co-Owner Marie Petulla conceptualized and created the popular Southern California establishment that specialized in Italian-influenced farm-to-table cuisine.

“I wanted to create a small neighborhood restaurant that was sustainable, that embraced the community, worked with local farmers, and everyone in Pasadena,” Petulla told Foodbeast.

With Chef Kalman creating the menu, a restaurant was born on March 8, 2014.

Chef Kalman and Petulla come from very different viewpoints. Herself, from the front of the house and Bruce from the back of the house.

In the early days of Union they would approach different problems in different ways, and it took them a bit of an adjustment period to understand each one’s perspective and allow themselves to be challenged by one another.

In the end, our vision was the same, said Petulla.

To celebrate the three-year anniversary of Union Restaurant, Chef Kalman invited a few close friends and chefs he met throughout his professional career to help create a special menu for the anniversary dinner.

Joining Chef Kalman for this one-night event was acclaimed chef Brooke Williamson of Playa Provisions…

…Executive Chef Nick Shipp of Upper West Restaurant…

…Duff Goldman, owner of Charmed City Cakes and host of the Food Network series Ace of Cakes

…and Michael Voltaggio of ink. and the winner of Top Chef season six.

This all-star lineup of chefs kicked off the night with a quick rundown of the dishes they were making. The short, but essential meeting touched upon minute menu changes and what they expected from each other as well as the sous chefs and wait staff.

Then, the dinner kicked off.

Like an endless waltz of knife work, mixing, seasoning, and plating, the chefs were united in uncanny harmony.

The smells emerging from the bustling kitchen were so heavenly, I could have sworn even my camera began salivating.

Each chef was in charge of their own dishes, created in their own respective styles and techniques, but were more than happy to shift gears and assist their colleagues at a moment’s notice.

Chef Kalman told us, “I wanted to organize a celebratory dinner and thought it would be great to bring in some of my good friends who are amazing chefs.”

Cause everything’s better with friends, he said.

As the chefs worked tirelessly, the restaurant began to swell with hungry and excited patrons. Soon enough, the crowd was wall to wall, testing the integrity of containment like a child’s water balloon on the hottest day of summer.

Finally, the moment that was three years in the making had finally arrived: the first dish of the night was ready.

The entire restaurant raised their glasses to Chef Kalman and Marie Petulla. Celebratory words were exchanged and cheers rung through the four brick walls of Union Restaurant.

Now, there were many courses throughout this dinner, all of which were the pinnacle of Italian and American fare.

This, however, isn’t about the food.

Union Restaurant’s anniversary dinner was about the community.

The restaurant known best for incorporating produce and ingredients from local areas, celebrated a milestone by bringing together a community of chefs, friends, and colleagues. Yes, on this night, every essential element came together and formed a perfect union.