by Debra on September 29, 2011

Musical pairing – Carolina by James Taylor

I had been a fan of Virginia Willis long before I had the opportunity to meet her; perusing her blog is like grabbing a cup of coffee or tea and settling in to catch up . . . to see what’s been happening since the last time I visited . . . warm, inviting and one of the best storytellers I know, Virginia’s writing cuts to the chase and speaks to my heart . . .

We met somewhat by accident at the Atlanta Food Blog Forum last year; I knew Virginia would be speaking but I certainly never expected that we would come face to face. But the universe has a way of showing up when you least expect it . . . there were close to 100 people gathered that Friday night in Atlanta, and we were waiting to see a pork demonstration. There was a bit of a line as people were shuffling to take a seat and when I turned around to look for The Professor, Virginia was directly behind me. Completely caught off guard, I kept walking as I sputtered, ‘Oh my God, you’re Virginia Willis!’ and, like Sandra Bullock, in ‘Miss Congeniality’, nearly mowed down the person in front of me . . . I turned back to see Virginia’s eyes dancing and a big grin spread across her face as she tried to stifle a chuckle. I laughed. She laughed. I introduced myself and now I’m an even bigger fan.

Virginia is an accomplished French-trained chef and author of ‘Bon Appétit Y’all’ which was nominated for the IACP Best American Cookbook award; she has been featured in many award-winning publications and has held many a prestigious job – all of which are to be celebrated. Virginia has worked hard and earned every good opportunity that has come her way. But what I simply adore about Virginia is that she is real, she is genuine . . . there is nothing pretentious about Virginia or the fabulous recipes she creates . . . what you see is what you get.

This recipe, Coca-Cola Cupcakes, is from her new book, ‘Basic to Brilliant Y’all’ – she’s taken an old Southern classic and makes it ‘brilliant’ with the addition of toasted meringue; I will also share that I’m not necessarily a baker and these were a huge success!!

If you’d like to purchase the book, Virginia is offering Smith Bites readers a personalized and signed bookplate. The holidays are coming up fast and if you’re looking for a nice gift for a friend . . . or, ahem, yourself . . . purchase a copy of the book  and then fill out this form by October 12, 2011 and Virginia will get the bookplate sent to you.

You can also find Virginia on Facebook and Twitter – I know she’d love to know what you think of her new book!