Bremerton architect is cooking up a surprise on ‘Top Chef Amateurs’

Budding culinary artist says family, friends are her inspiration in the kitchen

BREMERTON — For Bree Medley, cooking has always been a family affair that came naturally to her.

The Bremerton architect said her mom is a great cook and that food always brought her family together.

“That translated into [cooking] becoming my love language,” Medley said.

And now, her culinary love language is about to be shared with a global audience of fellow foodies. Medley has joined the “Top Chef” family by competing on television’s inaugural season of “Top Chef Amateurs,” in which two amateur chefs battle each other alongside a “Top Chef” finalist partner from a previous year.

Cooking to the best of your ability on the show isn’t as easy as pie. “It’s one thing to cook for yourself. It’s another to do it in front of cameras and against somebody, with a time limit,” Medley said.

A professional architect by day and an amateur chef by night, Medley got inspired to be a culinary creative while in architectural school by watching cooking shows. The programs encouraged her to experiment with cooking by trying to recreate the elaborate meals she saw chefs prepare on programs such as “Top Chef,” which Medley said she has been watching since the show began.

Bree Medley offers judges Gail Simmons, Jen Carroll and Tiffany Derry a taste of her culinary creation on Bravo’s “Top Chef Amateurs.” (Photo by David Moir/Bravo)

Bree Medley offers judges Gail Simmons, Jen Carroll and Tiffany Derry a taste of her culinary creation on Bravo’s “Top Chef Amateurs.” (Photo by David Moir/Bravo)

These culinary experimentations evolved to the point where Medley began traveling across the globe to take cooking classes. Now that she’s busy as an architect with Seattle-based The Brandt Design Group, cooking has become her respite. She said it’s the thing she does that makes her the happiest.

The passion she creates in the kitchen all comes full circle to family and friends, for whom she shows her love by preparing an array of her favorite meals.

And those who have benefited from her cooking skills, in turn, show her their love right back.

Medley’s sister saw an advertisement recruiting people for “Top Chef Amateurs” — compelling her to write a letter to the show’s talent scout and enthusiastically endorsing her sister as a contestant. Shortly afterward, Medley got a call from casting agents. It was a welcome surprise for her — and she jumped at the chance.

with Medley working remotely because of the pandemic, the timing was perfect for her to continue working and also appear on the show.

It was “absolutely the best thing I have done in as long as I can remember,” Medley said.

Being on the show reinvigorated Medley, who dove head-first into the creative elements of cooking — a part of her culinary skill that she said had gone dormant.

Not surprisingly, her family was more than happy to become “Guinea pigs” as she tested her cooking creations.

Medley said she’s been tempted to leave architecture and take the plunge into the professional culinary world and head to culinary school. After all, there have been a few furtive efforts in which she’s taken on small catering events for friends and family. But, for various reasons, she didn’t make the career change.

“I was scared that I’d stopped loving it,” Medley said.

Or, upon reflection, maybe she was just scared. Perhaps being on the show has changed her mindset.

“I can definitely say being on this show has definitely reinvigorated and revitalized my love of cooking,” Medley said.

If she does become part of the culinary world, it would be in Bremerton, a place that she so loves.

While she isn’t ready to share specifics about her culinary plans for the future, Medley said she’s going to start by taking baby steps that might lead her to cook up something special on the horizon.

Medley’s “Top Chef Amateurs” episode airs at 9:30 p.m., on Thursday, July 8 on Bravo.