Virginia Willis is the author of the acclaimed cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y’all! Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking (Ten Speed Press, 2008). Her next book, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all: Recipes and Recollections of a Southern Culinary Journey is the lead book for Ten Speed Press for Fall of 2011.
A graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine and Ecole de Cuisine LaVarenne, she previously honed her attention to detail as the Kitchen Director for Martha Stewart Living Television where she supervised the food segments for the Emmy-award winning television show. With MSLTV, Virginia was also responsible for preparing private meals and events for Martha and her guests — including among others, President Clinton, Aretha Franklin, and Julia Child. As Executive Producer for Epicurious on The Discovery Channel, she traveled the world taping fantastic stories about food – from harvesting capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano to making authentic mustard in Dijon. Virginia’s wide and varied food career started in Atlanta as an apprentice to Nathalie Dupree. She worked with Dupree on four PBS series and cookbooks, including the James Beard award-winning Comfortable Entertaining. She also spent several years as an editorial assistant with culinary authority Anne Willan on various projects including Cook It Right, an exhaustive tome that documents the various states of “doneness” (and over- and under-”doneness”) of everything from whipped cream to braised pheasant.
She is a featured chef in Atlanta Cooks at Home, was a tester and editor for The All-New Joy of Cooking, author of Pasta Dinners 1,2,3, and co-author of Home Plate Cooking. She has been featured in House Beautiful, The Chicago Tribune, and ABCnews.com. Her work has appeared in Country Living, Family Fun, and Taste of the South. She has appeared on Real Simple Television, Martha Stewart Living Television, Paula Deen’s Best Dishes, and in TV commercials for Duke’s Mayonnaise. As a nationally recognized culinary professional her client list includes Calphalon, Char-Broil, The Coca Cola Company, Fresh Express, Olive Garden, and Whole Foods Market.
Virginia is on the national board of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs as well as the Atlanta Community Food Bank Advisory Board. She is a past president of the Atlanta chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a member of Georgia Organics, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Southern Foodways Alliance, and the American Institute of Wine and Food.
It was a delightful evening. We enjoyed delicious food and were kept entertained with stores of French travels and New Orleans dinner dates. Virginia is very charming and we felt like we were sitting at her kitchen table. – Cindy & Beth
Chef Virginia was as charming as her books. I had both books prior to class and had the opportunity to try many of the recipes. The recipes work, always! The family antidotes make a great bedtime reading. – Andrea
A really great evening! Chef Virginia truly exhibits a joy of cooking as a love of her audience. – Pauline
Chef Virginia Willis’s Visit – February 11, 2012
Chef Virginia Willis is a culinary expert regarding Southern American Regional Cuisine and is famous for her French style of cooking with a Southern flair.
As the daughter and granddaughter of consummate Southern cooks and a classically trained French chef, Virginia has a gift for giving French recipes a down-home Southern feel. Her acclaimed first book, Bon Appétit, Y’all , is a passionate homage to her culinary roots. In her demonstration of these recipes from her new book, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all , Virginia showed how to take a tasty basic recipe and transform it, via a technique, garnish, additional step or short recipe, into a show stopper.
“Great class! Loved the TV camera angles as no seat is a bad seat. Virginia Willis is very entertaining with a great teaching skill. Thanks so much.” – Bridget W.
“I learned a lot of new techniques tonight. Virginia is delightful – the class was fun, the people friendly, and the food was fantastic!!” – Debbie J.
“I loved the class! It was a great thing to do with a group of my girlfriends. We had a blast! Chef Virginia was fun and I learned a few simple tips to help me out in the kitchen. Would love to come back!” – Kelle
“Virginia Willis was great. She demoed her food and technique with humor, southern grace and style. Loved her stories and tidbits of information on her recipes.” – Katy