Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chef cooks up a good cause

The few occasions I've had to interview her, Virginia Willis has come across as a charming, practical soul with a rich understanding of Southern food heritage. It's fun to note that she's got a cause cooking in Atlanta, and Emory's sustainability project will be worth watching:

Emory University is proud of its mission to serve sustainable, delicious food to its diners; acclaimed chef and author Virginia Willis prides herself on cooking with only the finest, local ingredients.

The coupling of Emory’s mission and Virginia’s expertise is exemplified in the Heritage Harvest Feast — a Thanksgiving menu comprised of recipes from Virginia Willis’s best-selling cookbook Bon Appétit, Y’all: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking (Ten Speed Press, May 2008, $32.50) which will be served throughout all of Emory University’s dining facilities today. To celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday and in the spirit of friendship, family, and fellowship, Virginia Willis and Emory’s talented culinary team will cook soul-satisfying Southern favorites, using local produce and heritage turkeys.

The daughter and granddaughter of consummate Southern cooks, Virginia Willis inherited their love of fresh, home-cooked food and unconditional hospitality before going on to become a classically trained French chef. These divergent influences inform Bon Appétit, Y’all, Virginia’s passionate homage to her culinary roots. Brimming with recipes meant for the family home kitchen, displaced Southerners yearning for a taste of home, aspiring cooks, and anyone who appreciates good food, and enhanced with stories, photos, tips, and techniques, Bon Appétit, Y’all seamlessly blends Virginia’s Southern and French roots into a memorable and thoroughly modern cookbook.

Emory University's sustainability vision sets an ambitious goal of 75 percent local or sustainably grown food in the hospitals and cafeterias by 2015. A Sustainable Food Committee was named by the President in the spring of 2007 to lead Emory’s Sustainable Food Initiative. The group includes a dozen members — faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate students — from all across the University and has accomplished a number of projects including establishing food purchasing guidelines and defining “sustainable” and “local” food.