Chef’s Table is a sporadic series profiling Santa Barbara’s most interesting chefs. Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: Brooke Egger
Hometown: Colville, Washington
Education: Egger was originally enrolled in Santa Barbara City College’s architecture program and then moved to its culinary school to study confectionary. Ironically enough, confectionary is a type of architecture.
Why She Cooks: Egger said she was inspired to study cooking when she visited Seegers — a three-star Michelin restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia — and was blown away by “how perfect everything was.”
Current Jobs: Egger is creating and designing her own series of chef’s uniforms and breaking into the entrepreneurial side of cooking. She plans to jump back into catering once the season picks back up.
Former Jobs: Egger started out catering in Santa Barbara and got her first job working at Wine Cask’s Intermezzo. She has worked with Kristine Castillo at Village Modern Foods and has even cooked overseas in Germany.
Recent Claim to Fame: Egger’s most recent claim to fame is appearing in the “Soups-a-Daisy” episode of Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen, where she came in third place. “I got kicked out for habaneros,” Egger said. “We had to make a soup on a half sheet trey in 20 minutes, and I put a little too many habaneros in the English guy’s soup. When they finally hit him, it was like he couldn’t handle it. I had to hold back from laughing.” Egger also said that, aside from the position of certain camera angles, everything on the show was filmed live (contrary to the belief that many reality TV shows are staged).
What She’s Up to Now: In addition to looking for investors for her uniform line, Egger has several other up-and-coming projects that she’s excited about. In April or May, she will be doing a pop-up dinner with Chef Eric Shelton in his kitchen, LTO, in Dallas, Texas. She’s also working on a local “Wild Harvest” project that will be focused on sustainable foods. “I can’t say much about that because of non-disclosure,” Egger said, “but I’m really excited about it.”
Finally, Egger is trying to win Pace restaurant, which, if successful, she plans to co-chef with Eric Shelton. “I specialize in wild game,” Egger told me, “and [Shelton] specializes in a more modern Southern cuisine, so it would definitely be a bringing together of two minds and two worlds. But it would definitely be well-balanced, healthy, farm-to-table-type food.”
Curious about her experience in wild game, this reporter couldn’t help but ask Egger what the craziest type of meat she’s ever cooked was. “I’ve cooked rattlesnake, boar, elk, antelope, chukkers (a smaller version of a quail), basically anything in the Pacific Northwest,” Egger replied. “I grew up hunting and fishing. Where I grew up it was necessary for winter; you couldn’t just run out to the grocery store in the winter to buy meat, because there was snow up to the ceiling.”
Nicknamed the “Renegade Chef,” Egger says she enjoys a more rugged style of cooking, where she “doesn’t have every type of utensil” and is able to create meals with what she has available to her. Needless to say, her renegade style is a welcome addition to the Santa Barbara culinary scene.