Craftsy-Virginia

Virginia Willis

Chef Virginia Willis is the author of Lighten Up, Y'all, Bon Appétit, Y'all and Basic to Brilliant, Y'all, Okra: A Savor the South Cookbook, and Grits by Short Stack Editions. Lighten Up, Y'all: Classic Southern Recipes Made Healthy and Wholesome received a 2016 James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence in the Focus on Health category and was a finalist for Best American cookbook by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. She is currently in development with WGBH for a series called Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover’s Tour of the Global South to air nationally on public television stations.

She is a Contributing Editor for Southern Living and her column “Cooking with Virginia” will debut this fall. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of "Seven Food Writers You Need to Know." A popular Southern chef, her legion of fans love her knack for giving classic French cooking a down-home feel and reimagining Southern recipes en Français. Her eponymous food blog, tagged as a favorite blog by Saveur magazine, receives rave reviews for her recipes and stories celebrating her Southern heritage and classic French training. Her articles have appeared nationally including Southern Living, Food52, CNN, All Recipes, Country Living, Eating Well, Family Fun, and Fine Cooking. As a nationally recognized Southern food and beverage authority she has been featured in the Washington Post, and USA Today, Serious Eats, and Tasting Table and quoted in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Virginia is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree. She was the producer of Epicurious on the Discover Channel and Home Plate for Turner Studios. In front of the camera, Virginia has appeared on Food Network's Chopped, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, Paula Deen's Best Dishes, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Her culinary consulting company, Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc specializes in recipe development, content creation, culinary editorial services, culinary video production, spokesperson representation, and media training.

She is a member of The James Beard Foundation, Chef’s Collaborative, Les Dames d’Escoffier, Georgia Organics, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and the Southern Foodways Alliance. She participates in Chef's Move to Schools and is also part of the No Kid Hungry Blogger Program for Share our Strength. Virginia is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force. As an Atlanta chef, she is proud to be on the Atlanta Community Food Bank Advisory Board as well as the Atlanta Community Farmer's Market Advisory Board.

On the Blog

What's in Season: Cooking with Citrus

citrusWinter is citrus season and the produce departments are overflowing. There are the diminutive Tangerines, Clementines, Tangelos, Mineolas, and Satsumas in the “cutie” citrus club. Down the aisle, big bold Navel oranges with their thick skins and bright colors rest aside their more thin-skinned, but certainly no-less-sweet juice oranges.

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Sinless Seven Layer Dip: for your Super Bowl Party

seven layer dipAnother game day favorite is Seven Layer Dip. Addictive Seven Layer Dip is one of those decadent dishes that render folks absolutely senseless, so before you know it you find your willpower has gone way south of the border. Not this recipe! I’ve lightened things up for a deliciously winning combination. Shh! Don’t tell your Super Bowl Party guests this is a healthier version — and I promise, they will never know! Bon Appétit Y’all — and Go Falcons!! 

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Chicken Wings: for the Dirty Birds

cornbreadOther than the recent reports concerning Georgia’s Fifth District, the big deal right now in The ATL is that the Falcons are playing the Green Bay Packers for the NFC Championship — and a ticket to the 51st Super Bowl. In honor of the Falcons, also known as the “Dirty Birds,” I thought I’d share a few of my favorite recipes for wings. The sweet heat glaze for the Dirty Bird Chicken Wings is made with none other than Coca-Cola, which of course, also hails from Atlanta. And, the Curried Wings are served with a (Georgia) Peach Dipping Sauce.The sweet heat glaze for the Dirty Bird Chicken Wings is made with none other than Coca-Cola, which of course, also hails from Atlanta. And, the Curried Wings are served with a (Georgia) Peach Dipping Sauce. Both recipes are guaranteed winners. It’s a toss up to which one will score more points at your Falcon’s Tailgate!

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Ground Corn 101: Cornmeal and Grits

cornbreadThe importance of corn in the Southern diet cannot be overstated. Corn was eaten fresh in the summer, and dried and ground into meal for boiling and baking in the winter. Cornmeal has also played a major role in Northern foodways and while grits are far more popular down South, cornbread is a universally American dish. However, all ground corn is not the same.

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