Chef Virginia Willis on set of Alex vs America

Watch Virginia compete on the Season Premier of Alex vs America

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Chef Virginia Willis on set of Alex vs America

Chef Virginia Willis faces off in one of the fiercest culinary competitions on TV when she takes on fellow James-Beard Award-winning chefs on the season premiere of the hit primetime series Alex vs. America, Sunday, April 16 on Food Network!

Competition is nothing new for Virginia who has competed on Chopped and served as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay, but she readily admits the invitation to compete against two other powerhouse Beard-award winners was intriguing and a little daunting as well.

Virginia Willis with Beard Award

James Beard Foundation

“When I agreed to participate, I knew I would be going head-to-head with some of the best chefs in America,” said Virginia. Virginia says she was particularly honored to be chosen to appear on the Alex vs America episode featuring James Beard Award winners because that recognition is one of the highlights of her career. (Look at that smile!)

Virginia, who received a James Beard Foundation Award for her cookbook, “Lighten Up, Y’all” is a French-trained chef who has cooked in Michelin-starred restaurants and managed kitchens for Martha Stewart, Bobby Flay, and others.

Chefs Jonathan Sawyer, Virginia Willis, and Nate Appleman on the set of Alex vs America

Best New Chef

In addition to superchef Alex Guarnaschelli, she will be competing against award-winning powerhouse chefs Jonathan Sawyer and Nate Appleman. Sawyer is chef-owner at Adorn Bar and Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago. He is a former Food and Wine Best New Chef and appears frequently on Food Network programs. Appleman is also a Food and Wine Best New Chef recipient as well as a Beard Foundation Rising Chef award-winner. He is a consultant, former restaurant owner, cookbook author, and Food Network regular.

Behind-the-scenes sneak peek before the Alex vs America kitchen heats up — and a “V for Virginia!” 

Food Network’s Hit Series

In Alex vs. America, acclaimed chef and Food Network icon Alex Guarnaschelli competes against three culinary superstars at the same time over two rounds. The competitors hail from across the United States but share the same mastery of a culinary genre, one that they have spent endless hours in their own kitchens perfecting and which will be tested in an effort to take down Alex.

At the start of each battle, host Eric Adjepong presents Alex and the competitors with the culinary theme for their dishes. In the first round, the competitors can work together to select ingredients and even decide how much time goes on the clock. Each dish undergoes a blind tasting from two judges well-versed in the episodic theme, with only the top three chefs advancing to the next round and the least successful challenger sent home – even if it is Alex. Judges Stephanie Izard and Kwame Onwauchi have the challenging task of naming a winner.

Virginia Willis Instagram QR Code

Follow Virginia Willis on Instagram!


Can-Do Attitude

“I wanted to challenge myself with this incredible opportunity that I was given to test myself!” says Virginia. “One thing I have said for a very long time is that you can be certain that you will fail if you don’t try.”

For more about Virginia’s can-do attitude (and quelling negative thoughts) check out her thoughtful piece about a 7-mile hike and climbing a mountain!

Find out if she wins it all on Alex vs America this weekend on Food Network! 

Bon Appetit, Y’all!

Virginia Willis


McCraney Communications

Melanie McCraney



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Virginia Willis cookbooks


Please note that this post may contain affiliate links.

Virginia Willis

Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis’ biography includes making chocolate chip cookies with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, foraging for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvesting capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and hunting for truffles in France. She is talent and chef-instructor for the digital streaming platform Food Network Kitchen. Her segments feature authentic and innovative Southern cooking. She was the celebrity chef at the Mansion at Churchill Downs for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Virginia has spoken at SXSW, cooked for the James Beard Foundation, and beguiled celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, and Jane Fonda with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Recently, her work has been inspired by her weight loss success story, Virginia has lost 65# and kept it off for over 2 1/2 years! “If a French-trained, Southern chef can do it, you can, too.” She is the author of Fresh Start; Secrets of the Southern Table; Lighten Up, Y’all; Bon Appétit, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant, Y’all; Okra; and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all won a James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence in the Focus on Health Category. Lighten Up, Y’all as well as her first cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y’all, were finalists in the Best American Cookbook for the International Association of Cookbook Awards and were also named by the Georgia Center of the Book as “Books Georgians Should Read.” She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree; has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants; and traveled the world producing food stories – from making cheese in California to escargot farming in France. She has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped, CBS This Morning, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. She’s been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, People Magazine, Eater, and Food52 and has contributed to Eating Well, GRLSQUASH, Culture, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know.” Her legion of fans loves her down-to-earth attitude, approachable spirit, and traveling exploits. Her culinary consulting company, Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc specializes in content creation, recipe development, culinary editorial and production services, cookbook writing, media training, spokesperson and brand representation, and public speaking. Virginia is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Atlanta Community Food Bank Advisory Board, as well as the Community Farmers Market Advisory Board. She is a food and hunger advocate for No Kid Hungry and a premier member of the No Kid Hungry Atlanta Society. She a member of The James Beard Foundation, Chef’s Collaborative, Georgia Organics, and Southern Foodways Alliance.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Lori McLain

    We will be watching! Go Virginia !,,,

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