While attending culinary school, Amy Brandwein discovered a love of the cooking process, as well as techniques and history of cuisine. At Centrolina, in Washington’s central business district, she tweaks classical Italian dishes with new presentations, combining flavors and textures that reinvigorate the Italian dining experience. Guests respond well to the food, the open kitchen floor plan and the attached food market. “The market lends itself to culinary exploration,” she says. “I cook with a lot of ingredients from there. If someone likes a dish, they can easily grab some ingredients to take home.”
She embraces spontaneity, inspired by ingredients she has on hand. “I make a list of products in-house, think about it, and then see what flavors go with each other.” Potatoes are a staple in her kitchen. “Potatoes don’t have to be stored in the refrigera- tor. They are easily stacked and affordable. They also ensure a customer’s appetite is satisfied.” She often uses olive oil when cooking potatoes, explaining that it “intensifies the flavor of the potato and gives it a pleasant mouthfeel.” Brandwein selected Peewee potatoes for her Burrata Baby Potato Chips dish. “I love their color, size, taste and starch balance,” she says, adding that the dish’s flavor is reminiscent of chips and dip. “When I hear a customer say the meal is delicious and that they feel at home here, I’ve done my job.”
Amy Brandwein was a James Beard Foundation semifinalist for the past three years in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category. In 2018 she won Chef of the Year at the RAMMY awards (given by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington) for her Italian cuisine.