Interview with 2012 Atlanta Rising Star Chef Tyler Williams

June 2012

Katherine Sacks: What made you interested in cooking?

Tyler Williams: I grew up with a lot of Lebanese and Arabic friends in Michigan. I would go over to their houses, and the moms would make me kebabs. I had never seen anything like that. I started getting into it, started seeking out ethnic restaurants. My first job was at an Oregon golf club. I worked the burger station in between the nines, it was the highest paying job I ever had. When I got promoted to prep cook, I got a huge decrease in pay; I almost didn't want to do it.

KS: What is your style as a chef?

TW: I think there is a lot of ethnic influence and I try to bring a lot of personality into each dish. Lots of texture, different pops of flavor. I avoid the mundane.

KS: How are you part of the local culinary community?

TW: We do so many events; we host events and participate. I did March of Dimes two days ago. I wish I had more time; there are so many opportunities within the company. I also have to give my fiancé some time; at the moment any time I'm not at work I'm planning the wedding.

KS: Do you suggest culinary school to people interested in getting into cooking?

TW: It’s too expensive. I think people should just show up in a restaurant and say they'll work for free. If they work hard, the chef will start paying them eventually. I just can't stand to see people with kids pay all that money to go to culinary school. If you are doing it in place of college, then it depends on if you can afford it. I went to college before I went to culinary school at Arizona State, where I studied cultural geography.

KS: What are you most proud of?

TW: I think I'm a really hard worker. I’ve always been a really hard worker. If you have a relentless pursuit of your goals, if you work hard enough, you can get there. People notice when you work your butt off.

KS: Where will we find you in five years?

TW: I’m not quite sure. I always want to go back to Portland, but that’s more like 10 years. And starting a family.