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Chef Virginia Willis is the author of Bon Appétit, Y'all and Basic to Brilliant, Y'all, Okra: A Savor the South Cookbook, and Grits by Short Stack Editions. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of "Seven Food Writers You Need to Know." Her legion of fans love her knack for giving classic French cooking a down-home feel and reimagining Southern recipes en Français.

She writes the popular comfort food blog called Down-Home Comfort that celebrates comfort food cooking for Food Network and the Cooking Channel. 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. She is a contributing editor for Southern Living and her articles have appeared nationally including Food52 and CNN as well as 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, and quoted in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

She 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. Recipe development clients include Georgia Pecan Commission, Roland Foods, Uncle Ben's Rice, Sodexo, Preserving Place, and Whole Foods Market. Her recipe for Sweet Onion Confit won Best of Georgia in 2014. Video content and media training services clients include CharBroil Grills, Roland Foods, The Lisa Ekus Group, and the Ritz Carlton.

She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Chef's Collaborative, Les Dames d'Escoffier, Georgia Organics, and the Southern Foodways Alliance. 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. She participates in Chef's Move to Schools and is also part of the No Kid Hungry Blogger Program for Share our Strength.

Global Cuisine: Miso Soup

miso soupAs a French-trained Southern chef, it’s pretty easy for me to whip up a soufflé or make a batch of biscuits. And, when I am free-form cooking in the kitchen, just making supper, I lean towards those styles of cooking. I know them like the back of my hand. They are easy and comfortable.

However, cooking from other cuisines and cultures is one of my favorite ways to play around in the kitchen. It’s also a way to literally spice things up. Face it, aren’t you becoming a wee bit weary of root vegetables and braised meats? I love the exploration of foods that I do not really know. It’s like a treasure hunt!

Cooking global cuisine requires me to read and research. I may not be as familiar with the ingredients. While my French-Southern pantry contains thyme and parsley as aromatics, Indian cooking might require fresh curry leaves and Middle Eastern might require preserved lemon or exotic spices. This kind of cooking is a form of exploration that allows me a bit of freedom — obviously, everything I eat or want to eat couldn’t possibly be French or Southern! Click here to read the rest of this recent blog.