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Virginia Willis has cooked Lapin Normandie with Julia Child, prepared lunch for President Clinton, and catered a bowling party for Jane Fonda. She began her culinary career tossing pizzas in college, has since foraged for wild herbs in the Alps, made mustard in Dijon, crushed olives in California, and harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen.
As a popular Southern food authority and writer, she is the author of Bon Appétit, Y’all (Ten Speed Press, 2008), Basic to Brilliant, Y’all (Ten Speed Press, 2011), and Lighten Up, Y’all (Ten Speed Press, 2015). She has also written Okra: A SAVOR THE SOUTH® cookbook, and Grits by Shortstack Editions, featured in the New York Times holiday gift guide. She is the blogger for Down-Home Comfort on FoodNetwork.com, as well as her own popular blog, that was tagged as a favorite by Saveur magazine. Named by the Chicago Tribune as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know,” her fans love her knack for giving classic French dishes a down-home comfort feel and reimagining Southern favorites.
A graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine and Ecole de Cuisine LaVarenne, her first job in a professional kitchen was as an apprentice for Nathalie Dupree’s TV cooking show on PBS. Willis has subsequently worked on over 1000 TV episodes, as Kitchen Director for Martha Stewart and Bobby Flay, as well as Producer of Epicurious on The Discovery Channel and Home Plate for Turner Studios. She has been featured in USA Today, Country Living, and House Beautiful as well as Food52 and CNN.com. She is a contributing editor to Southern Living and her writing has been published in Family Fun, Fine Cooking, All Recipes, and Taste of the South. She has appeared on Fox and Friends, Martha Stewart Living Television, Paula Deen’s Best Dishes, Thrown Down with Bobby Flay, and on Food Network’s Chopped.
Virginia is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force and 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, Chef’s Collaborative, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and Southern Foodways Alliance.