Georgia Center for the Book

Virginia Willis

Georgia Connections

  • Augusta, Richmond County

Notes of Interest

Virginia Willis is the author of the acclaimed cookbook, "Bon Appetit, Y'All: Three Generations of Southern Cooking" (2008), which has been chosen by the Georgia Center for the Book for inclusion on its 2010 list of "25 Books All Georgians Should Read."

Her experiences in the kitchen growing up with consummate cooks combined with her classical training as a French chef make her book a unique and appealing homage to her culinary roots. She writes of her "simple-is-best" philosophy in preparing foods, using the finest, freshest ingredients into what she calls "refined Southern cuisine." Her book discusses these tehcniques and updates some well-known dishes from chicken and dumplings to Boeuf Bourgignonne while at the same time relating illuminating details about the food. Her book, widely acclaimed by food critics and readers all over the world, is the first book about cooking to be included on the Center's "25 Books All Georgians should Read" list.

Born in Augusta in 1966, Willis grew up in Georgia and Louisiana always in the kitchen with her mother and grandmother. A graduate of L'Academie de Cuisine and Ecole de Cuisine LaVarenne, she produced Turner South's "Home Plate" and the DVD "Shirley Corriher's Kitchen Secrets Revealed!" Previously, she was the kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living Television, where she supervised the food segments for the Emmy Award-winning program. She was also responsible for preparing private meals and events for Martha and her guests, including, among others, President Clinton 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.

Her food career began in Atlanta as an apprentice to Nathalie 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 Willian on various projects including "Cook It Right," an exhaustive work that documents the states of "doneness" (and over "doneness") of everything from whipped cream to braised pheasant. She has been featured in several books and magazines and has been a weekly writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

She is president of the Atlanta chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier and a member of Georgia Organics, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Southern Foodways Alliance and Women Chefs and Restauranteurs.

Further Reading

  • Virginia Willis Home Page
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