Chef Spotlight: Tyler Williams

November 4, 2014

In an award-winning restaurant, the waiters are the back-up singers, the kitchen staff is the band and the Head Chef is the rock star. Make no mistake, Atlanta Chef, Tyler Williams, is the star of whatever kitchen he’s cooking in. The details of his new stage, however, are under wraps. “We’re opening a place in 2015 and it’s going to blow the doors off this city.”

Before that happens, Williams will join the judges table at this year’s Oyster Cook-Off, looking for the best oyster flavors of the year, plus he’s hosting an Asian inspired demo on the Big Green Egg stage. “We’re doing a Southern take on the Korean dish Bossam, a combination of pork and oysters wrapped in lettuce. It’ going to be really interesting, we’re really working with unique toppings.”

Williams savors the role as judge and is determined to use his power carefully. “I don’t want to be a Simon Cowell,” he joked. “I want to be as positive as possible but I think I’ll be able to dissect technique and flavors really well. The raw category is going to take some serious creativity because how can you improve on a perfect raw oyster? The Rockefeller is a dish I feel very proficient with – that’s going to be the one I am a stickler about. As for Cajun, I’m going for straight taste.”

For Williams becoming a chef meant creating something bigger in his world than a string of meals. The fact that cooking has now reached a place of higher regard and that people are more open-minded about cuisine is one of the reasons Williams is still doing the work. “To me cooking equals community.” He said. “The fact that people care more about food or who is making it, is great because it’s been such a great avenue to be creative. Food is not merely sustenance but bordering on art, and that’s the most gratifying part of being a chef.”

Embracing the farm to table movement, sharing new techniques, creating partnerships with suppliers, these have all been part of the evolutions of Atlanta’s creative food community but Williams said the beloved Southern city is ready for more. “Atlanta should be amongst the other culinary cites of the world and a beacon of great food, there is a demand for it, people are clamoring for it and I plan to be part of that shift.”

How the modern appetite differs from the palate of our past is something Williams’ knows first-hand. “When I started, I feel like cooking was more about looking backwards and trying to replicate traditional dishes and classic combinations. Now the freedom in cooking is to go beyond the tastes of the past. To use some of those old concepts and move them forward to make something we haven’t tasted before.”

Join us at the Oyster Cook-Off, Saturday, November 8 for delicious oysters, craft beer, and demos and workshops from chefs throughout the day. Williams will host an Asian inspired demo featuring a Southern take on the Korean dish Bossam, on the Big Green Egg Stage at 11 a.m.