The Brookland’s Finest Chef
Chef Shannan Troncoso is the leading lady behind one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants, Brookland’s Finest. The hidden gem of a restaurant is tucked away in DC’s Brookland neighborhood and is a fantastic find for those who come across it accidentally, or seek it out on purpose. You’ll find all walks of life in there – from people that have lived in Brookland forever, to people who have just moved there and are discovering it’s quaint community treasures for the first time. With something for everyone, the menu is simple and straightforward, with daily specials and interesting new pastries every day! Brunch on the weekends keep DC’s millennials fulfilled and it’s a great spot to catch a game the bar.
I caught up with Shannan to find out what makes her tick, and what also grinds her gears. She’s an inspiration to all young chefs, especially me, and I’m so excited to see what the future holds for her! Check out my interview below:
How/when did you get into cooking?
Growing up in a large Italian family, food was always a huge focal point. My grandmother taught me countless family recipes that I still make today that remind me of when I was a kid.
What kind of diner do you absolutely loathe?
Like most chefs, I spend a lot of time creating composed dishes for the restaurant’s menu. When a diner modifies a dish to the extent that it is unrecognizable, it can be very disappointing, but loathe is a strong word.
What was the biggest obstacle you faced while on your career path to becoming a chef?
I think for me, one of the biggest obstacles was feeling the need to prove myself while cooking on the line for years as one of the few women in a kitchen. But the experience was invaluable. It definitely gave me a tough skin and a strange sense of humor. Also, you pretty much cannot shock me.
What is a dish that you make regularly for yourself or your family at home?
Dishes I make regularly at home include anything grilled or various pasta dishes. Anything that I can whip up relatively fast. I prefer not to spend my night cooking after a long day in the kitchen.
Tell me one “must order” item your restaurant.
You must order the brussels sprout chips. They are hand peeled, flash fried, tossed in lemon juice and Maldon Sea Salt and served with a side of dill cream sauce.
Who is your dream dinner party guest?
This is a difficult question. My list of potential dream guests ranges from Prince to Dave Chappelle to Gloria Steinem, but ultimately, I would have to choose Anthony Bourdain. I read Kitchen Confidential when I was young and working in my first fine dining French restaurant. I related to his stories and was impressed with the crazy things he was able to overcome to be so successful today. He has great stories, is entertaining, and maybe he would even do some of the cooking!
What’s your favorite restaurant to dine at in DC? (besides your own)
My favorite restaurant to dine in DC is Indigo Indian Restaurant. It is a block from my house, is family run/owned and they do the best lamb and goat in town. And as an added bonus, they are planning to open a second location in Brookland!
Have you been “star struck” by another chef? If so, who?
Yes! I was star struck when I saw Paul Prudhomme years ago when I was working over on Capitol Hill. He was in town to judge a chili cook off. I love watching his old cooking shows on PBS.
Give me one piece of advice for up and coming chefs.
One piece of advice for up and coming chefs is that this life is not glamorous. It is nothing like what you see on TV. We work when everyone else is off (holidays, nights, weekends), which makes it difficult to have a balanced work to life ratio. It’s also really, really, really long (and sweaty) days. You have to have true passion to cook. I know everyone says this, but it’s true.
What is your go-to snack when you’re HANGRY?
My go-to HANGRY snack is a meatball with creamy grits/polenta. It’s filling and delicious, and we already have these items on my menu, so it’s also quick!
Fun fact about yourself?
Fun fact is that I talk to myself a lot. It’s usually orders on checks, random lists of ingredients, etc. I have also heard that talking to yourself is a sign of a genius (just sayin’)…
3126 12th Street NE
Washington, DC 20017
Monday-Thursday 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 a.m.
Friday 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 a.m.
Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 a.m.
Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 1:30 a.m.