Kirstyn Brewer

Winona's
South Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Walking into Winona's feels like a little oasis amidst the crazed outside that is lower Williamsburg (JMZ overhead YKTV). We wandered through the miniature wine bar at the front, and into a skylit back room to greet Chef de Cuisine Kirstyn Brewer, who was prepping for the evening alongside the staff, music playing at an inspiring volume in the background. We asked Brewer to showcase her favorite dishes for this interview--the Scotch Egg is a MUST. More on Kirstyn's journey through the culinary world and pre/post pandemic life below.
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Full name, age, where are you from?

Kirstyn Brewer, 36, from Riverside CA

What was growing up like for you and did you have family meals growing up?

I grew up in a very suburban area and both parents worked a lot. I loved food so I learned to fend for myself a bit. We did very often have home cooked meals. Everyone loved to eat. I was also always stoked to pile into the Astro Van and venture to The Spunky Steer or whatever our favorite Chinese spot was.. which was often. 

What meal, or beverage, most reminds you of your childhood? 

Whenever I go home, my mom makes me a big pot of braised oxtails and beans with hominy. With buttery blistered flour tortillas and salsa of course. Drink is easy… ice cold Capri Sun ;)

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Tell us a bit about your venture. What is your role and how did you get into this industry?

I am currently the CDC here at Winonas. I guess I got in to this industry by accidentally/ impulsively enrolling in culinary school when I was 19, and Its taken me from Los Angeles, to Texas, to NYC and haven’t stopped cooking since. 

Since moving to NYC I have found myself in a lot more hands on rolls than I had been recently. (Thanks Covid) It’s definitely sharpened my skills. 

How has the pandemic affected you?

Like I said, the past year has been very much all hands on deck. I opened two different restaurants with skeleton staffs, and scrapped for the few covers we would get when no one was leaving their sofas. I am tougher. 

I am also a lot more social than I was pre-pandemic. I missed the people and culture that comes along with restaurants. I am very Introverted, but don’t want to waste anymore time not enjoying the awesome people around me. 

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What do you think working in this industry during this time has taught you?

 Patience, gratitude, and really rolling with the punches. 

What's your favorite dish and drink on the menu?

It’s summer and hot and gross so my favorites right now are the watermelon salad with cocoa nib granola, and whatever the crudo is.

I have to stick with the classic with drink. I really love our EVOO Martini. It’s so clean and perfect and the olive oil mouthfeel is just sexy. 

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What is your favorite place to go out and eat at and what are you ordering?

Thats too hard, there are so many greats and i love it all. On my mind today.. 

spicy things from Ugly Baby

The burger at Long Island Bar

The salad and chicken from The Fly

And I’ll never turn down a table full of Sichuan or hot pot. 

Anything exciting coming up for you? 

We have some really great momentum going at Winonas. It’s going to be exciting to ride that and keep giving our guests new things… whether that be new dishes, pop ups, parties, brunchy things… we’ll see.

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