Kate Williams

Chef

Although Chef Kate Williams’ restaurants—Lady of the House, Karl’s and Candy Bar—have only recently opened, they’re already ingrained in the Detroit community. In just a few years, she’s been named as one of Food & Wine’s best new chefs, noted among GQ and Esquire’s best new restaurants lists and was a James Beard semifinalist. No matter if you’re at her ode to family dining or her spunky and sparkly cocktail bar, Kate’s all about making you feel right at home. 

Originally from Detroit, Kate served under Wolfgang Puck in Chicago before working in New York and Copenhagen. She returned home and decided it was where she needed to be. She now runs a place stocked with neighbors’ fine china, around the corner from where her grandparents met. Kate supports Michigan farms, runs a no-waste kitchen and continually works to bring people in for the best, most wholesome and unforgettable meal they’ve had. The invitation’s on the table. 

Why We Love Kate Williams

Kate connects her community through food and hospitality. She’s the kind of person whose generosity is second only to her work ethic, a caring cook and true hostess with the mostest.

“We are throwing a dinner party every night. That’s all we’re doing. It’s meant to be my personal dining room.”

“Outside of my restaurants, I cook a little bit at my own home, but I mostly cook at my mom Sharon’s house. This relates back to why I became a chef—I wanted to cook for her and my brothers and their families.”

6 Questions with Kate Williams

  1. How do your restaurants and bar complement each other and express different parts of your personality?

    Well, Candy Bar is sort of its own and is this swanky, high-end place. Really, it’s just this extravagant room with a 1,300-pound hand-blown glass chandelier from Italy. So, it’s very over-the-top. In terms of food at the restaurants, it’s like two sides of the same coin, I would say. It’s an expression of creativity, more elegant plating and delicate flavors at Lady of the House, while still in a fine-casual setting. While at Karl’s, it’s very much retro-classics. We serve food that’s very comforting and nostalgic. So, it’s fun and still feels like our place, just very different flavors going on.

  2. How does it feel to be such a part of the Detroit community?

    So, my mom’s grandparents met around the corner from Lady of the House. And then my great-great-grandfather owned a bakery on the east side. It’s weird to say I never knew I wanted a restaurant until I moved back to Detroit. I thought it was going to be temporary, I thought I would move or travel or something, but then it felt really natural to do it here. And then uncovering that history and those memories and stuff I didn’t even know about has been very, very cool.

  3. How do you think the food scene is helping Detroit grow and evolve?

    It certainly is just exploding. The amount of restaurants is crazy. Every time you think we’re at capacity, people are still traveling to Detroit for more. It’s been really cool to see new restaurants, food and retail come here. I guess it’s been ten years now back in the city, and seeing that growth has been really powerful.

  4. You describe your restaurants as ‘throwing a dinner party every night.’ What are the essentials of a great dinner party?

    I mean, casual in feel, definitely. When you say you’re throwing a dinner party, it’s really meant for people to feel like they’ll be at our house. So, just sit back and relax, you know? We’re taking care of you for the night. That’s really where that comes from. Obviously, you know, we think we’re curating the greatest wines, cheese, foods that we want to make for you that night.

  5. You’re so focused on family and hospitality. What’s dining with your family like?

    It’s funny, you know, growing up in an Irish-Catholic family, it was very much food that would feed the masses. Food that was cheap, because Detroit was a very blue-collar city. It was really my spark for being a chef was really at that dinner table and it was really the lifeblood of the family. Those are maybe my favorite memories. Someone’s getting in trouble, one of the boys, someone won’t eat their vegetables, somebody spills the salad dressing. That was our family. So, it’s special, and I don’t think I realized that into way late in my career that it was why I became a chef.

  6. And your mom still does Sunday dinners every week! What’s your favorite thing she makes?

    She does! I don’t always go, but some of us are always there. She used to make this, well, she calls it ‘Fried Chicken,’ but it’s this boneless breast and like, the Bisquick recipe from the back of the box. She used to over-cook her white rice. And that, whatever reason, is my favorite because she used to make it every birthday for me.

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