Virginia Willis

There are several reasons to be a little jealous of the lucky Derby fans who have seats in the exclusive and luxurious Mansion, but this year they get an extra treat. We are thrilled to announce that Chef Virginia Willis will be the Mansion's featured chef at the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby.  Luckily, you don't have to have seats in the Mansion to enjoy her mouthwatering Southern cooking. We'll share some of her recipes with you right here in the weeks leading up to Derby or you can purchase one of her award-winning cookbooks to up your game in today's Southern dishes and throw the perfect Derby party!

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 an Editor at Large for Southern Living and author of the magazine’s popular column “Cooking with Virginia.” 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.   

We could go on and on about how wonderful her food is, but visit her website to learn all about this Southern and national culinary treasure.

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