Food and Local Business Editor
Crystal Williams, the co-owner and head chef of Ridgewood’s farm to table eatery Julia’s and Norma’s Corner Shoppe bakery had a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. This past July, Williams was a contestant on the Food Network’s competitive cooking show “Chopped;” —and on Thanksgiving day, the episode aired, revealing that she won!
After months of keeping quiet about the episode, Williams is finally celebrating her performance on the show.
Local bar The Footlight screened the episode over the holiday weekend, following it with an unrelated but totally awesome Gilmore Girls marathon.
This isn’t the first time that Williams’ dedication to her work has paid off in some high-profile media attention. Two years ago, Norma’s was featured on the Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets, along with Rudy’s, another one of Ridgewood’s lovable bakeries.
Williams and her ten-year-old son happen to be die-hard fans of Chopped, so when the show contacted Norma’s to see if anybody was interested, Williams tells us that her response was “hell yeah!”
Coincidentally, Williams son had once suggested “Mommy, wouldn’t it be funny if you were on ‘Chopped’?”
Williams, who calls herself “technically” a baker, received her degree in pastry arts from the French Culinary Institute and has been surrounded by culinary artists for as long as she can remember. She tells Bushwick Daily that her grandmother owned a cooking school, her aunt owned a catering company, and her cousin is currently an executive chef.
Though she has always enjoyed working with food, Williams didn’t start thinking that it would become a serious profession until 10 years ago, when she was pregnant with her first child. Williams was baking so much that her family had to stage an “intervention.”
Deciding that cutting back on baking wasn’t going to happen, and because she didn’t have enough space, Williams began selling her homemade goods online, using the business moniker Thumbelina’s Pantry—which would become Norma’s when Williams opened her first brick and mortar location in 2012.
Two years later in 2014, Williams opened Julia’s with her partner in Norma’s, Denise Plowman, plus third co-owner Geneva Williams.
The three will soon be running another business as well. Williams and Plowman revealed to Bushwick Daily that they recently launched Corner Shoppe Goods, a product line of all the dressings, spreads, and condiments from both Norma’s and Julia’s (have you tried the onion jam with the Savory Cheese Plate at Julia’s? This reporter highly recommends it)!
Soon, Corner Shoppe Goods will start working with Poughkeepsie’s Mid-Hudson Workshop, an organization that helps small businesses employ medically and physically disabled people.
A huge shout out to the crews at Julia’s and Norma’s for being awesome, and a big congratulations to Crystal from Bushwick Daily!
Featured image: Chef Crystal Williams. Photo courtesy of Nooklyn.