Chef Virginia Willis is leading the way

Virginia Willis is a true beacon of southern cooking and of gracious hospitality.  A Georgia native with a vast global palate of education and experience, Virginia is one of those rare, deliciously incredible talents, that is responsible for the eruption of southern cuisine onto the American culinary landscape.  A prolific and award-winning author ( Bon Appetit Y’all, Secrets of the Southern Table, and Lighten Up, Y’all: Classic Southern Recipes Made Healthy and Wholesome), Virginia’s books seek to prepare the readers as they strive and achieve their own culinary excellence. Over the years Virginia and her cookbooks have certainly introduced a very modern approach to everyone’s favorite southern cooking favorites as well as the ubiquitous generational classic recipes of the south.

Virginia Willis also adores cookbooks and wanted to find a way to celebrate them with her friends.  One of her most celebrated pandemic pivots was her new Facebook and YouTube live stream broadcast series: Cookbooks with Virginia.  The show, which airs live and in person every Friday at 11:30am, features Virginia chatting with people she admires.

“I learned to cook in my grandmother’s kitchen,” says Virginia, “there are photos of me making biscuits at age three.”  Learning from her grandmother and her mother, incredible home cooks, Virginia was introduced at a very young age to her own unique language of love - cooking and the culinary arts. There are sweet memories of baking pound cakes with her mother in the family’s kitchen.  And, there are other memories of being on set with globally recognized chefs, like Nathalee Dupree, Bobby Flay  and Martha Stewart. 

An avid angler, Virginia once caught a twenty-five-pound king salmon, one of her favorite memories.  This incredible experience also serves as a personal reminder to Virginia of why she has served as a member of the Blue-Ribbon Advisory Board for Seafood Watch as well as the Monterey Aquarium.  “If the seafood is not sustainable I will not eat it nor will I cook with it,” says Virginia. “I try to respect the earth, honor the farmers, and celebrate the seasons.”

Virginia applauds the Les Dames D’Escoffier International (LDEI) Atlanta Chapter.  “LDEI has been a tremendous part of my culinary career. I was an apprentice with Nathalie Dupree as the chapter was being formed. Recently, I was awarded the LDEI Fellowship Grant at the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences in Rabun Gap and it was a tremendous honor.”  While at Hambidge, Virginia studied narrative non-fiction writing and began working on her first novel.


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