Chef Willis to visit Covington

COVINGTON - Famed chef and cookbook author Virginia Willis will visit Covington on Oct. 1 to sign copies of her book "Bon Appetit, Ya'll: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking."

Willis will be at Mayfield Hardware on the Square in downtown Covington from 1 to 2:30 p.m. to meet her fans and later will give a private cooking demonstration for members of the Covington Garden Club.

A rising star in the culinary world, Willis previously served as kitchen decorator for Martha Stewart Living Television, where she supervised food segments for the Emmy Award-winning show. She was also responsible for preparing private meals and events for Stewart and her guests, including President Bill Clinton, Aretha Franklin and Julia Child.

Wilson started her career in Atlanta, where she served as an apprentice to Nathalie Dupree.

She is a featured chef in "Atlanta Cooks at Home," tester and editor for "The All-New Joy of Cooking," author of "Pasta Dinners 1,2,3," and co-author of "Home Plate Cooking." Her work has also appeared in Country Living, Family Fun and Edible Atlanta.

Willis was an executive producer for Epicurious on The Discovery Channel, for which she traveled the world and had such adventures as harvesting capers in the shadow of a volcano and making authentic mustard in Dijon.

Willis is in town as a favor to Ann Brewer, co-founder of Morningside Farmers' Market in Atlanta and a member of the Covington Garden Club.

"She invited herself to the Farmers' Market to do a demonstration, and I said, 'You can come if you do something for me,' and she said, 'OK, deal,'" Brewer said. "I've known her for years, and I talked her into doing a trade-off."

The recipes in "Bon Appetit, Ya'll" rely on a traditional French technique to create what Willis calls "refined Southern cuisine" such as Coca-Cola-glazed baby back ribs, bourbon sweet potatoes and pork chops with dried plums. Cookbooks will be for sale at the signing.

For more information on Willis, visit www.virginiawillis.com.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.