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Virginia Willis | Southern Foodways Alliance - Southern Foodways Alliance Virginia Willis | Southern Foodways Alliance arrow left envelope headphones search facebook instagram twitter flickr menu rss play circle itunes calendar

Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to


Virginia Willis

Born in Augusta and raised in Macon County, Georgia, Virginia Willis began making biscuits with her grandmother at the age of three. A gifted home-schooled cook, Willis apprenticed on the set of Nathalie Dupree’s cooking show for a year before enrolling in culinary school, where she learned to write recipes alongside Anne Willan at the École de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris.

Willis moved to New York in 1997 and worked as a kitchen director for television programs starring Bobby Flay and Martha Stewart. In her debut cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y’all (2008), French classics stand side-by-side alongside her family’s Southern favorites. Basic to Brilliant, Y’all (2011) and Lighten Up, Y’all (2015) continued the thread of updating Southern standards. Her sixth and latest book, Secrets of the Southern Table (2018), illustrates the multicultural essence of the New American South.

Date of interview:

Rien Fertel

Rien Fertel

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


Alex Raij Txikito

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