Food Network

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.

Turkey 101: Brining, Roasting, and Carving

mamas pound cakeThe first time I ever brined a bird was with Mama over 10 years ago. I had read about it in Cook’s Illustrated. You know those folks like to brine. They’ll brine anything that doesn’t move fast enough. I was pretty curious so we thought we’d give it a try. We tried an overnight brine with salt, sugar, and spices. The bird was moist and tender with the most beautiful caramel-colored golden brown skin. It was then I decided I would never not brine a turkey.

That’s step #1 for Turkey 101.

Spatchcocking seems to be the rage this year and has “changed Thanksgiving forever” according to some sources. A few years ago, I had one of my better ideas that revolutionized our Thanksgiving. It was a small gathering and we just didn’t need a big bird. So, I bought a small bird and brined it overnight as I always do, then I halved it! I cut the backbone out and split it down the breast. It was an absolute revelation – and only took about an hour to cook. Splendid. Something to keep in mind if you need a smaller-than-normal bird and if you don’t want to cook only a breast. (We froze the other half to cook later.) Click here to read the rest of this recent blog.