Chef Will Mason
Executive Chef at the George’s Food & Spirits
Chef Will brings inspiration from the American West to the Blue Ridge
Guilty Pleasure snack: Dirty Water Hotdogs
Favorite Meal at home: Anything that someone else cooks for me, don’t “be intimidated cooking for a chef”. I appreciate any effort to make me food.
My most essential item in the kitchen: A Quality Knife. It makes all kitchen tasks so much easier. At some point in any procedure in a kitchen, you will most likely pick up knife.
My new favorite tool: Sous Vide for home use. A $100 gadget from Amazon will change the way home cooks look at preparing food. They are complete game changers, easy to use and can make home cooking almost foolproof.
The one condiment I can’t live without: Worcestershire Sauce
Meet Chef Will Mason
What led you to become a chef?
I joined the kitchen later in life than most. I had a “real” job with suits and ties and I hated it. My friends were in the restaurant business and they seemed to enjoy it, so I thought “Hey, Why not?’ And here I am many years later. One way or another, people in the industry are addicted to immediate gratification. There is no feeling like a guest praising what you just prepared for them. “That was the best I have ever had” is one of the greatest things a chef can hear.
Working in the kitchen with family?
At home I love it. Packing the family into the kitchen for special events is what cooking is all about. I have a 15 year old daughter who is more proficient in the kitchen than some professionals; she learned early and has a passion for it. While that makes me very proud I never want to see her working in a commercial kitchen.
What was your favorite dish as a child?
My mom used to make a Taco Casserole that was out of this world. And my grandmother’s Apple Pie!
What is your training, or have you learned from experience alone?
You are always learning in this business. There is nothing “new” in the kitchen. We all just steal ideas and concepts and put our own spin on it. I did culinary school (Johnson & Wales) and it provided a great baseline, but the experience from actual kitchen work can’t be replaced.
When people ask me if they should go to school, my answer is no. Watch and consume everything that Alton Brown has ever done. Videos, shows, books…they explain the “why” better than most any instructor. Then, go work in a kitchen and learn the “how” from spending time with a talented and patient chef. 2 years + Student debt and a diploma, or two years of staging in a kitchen and absorbing all of Alton’s knowledge. I’ll take the second option all day long!
Is there anyone who specifically inspired you to become a chef?
No doubt my mother and grandmother. There was no Food Network or Youtube when I was in my formative years, so they were my inspiration.
What food styles have you brought into the kitchen based on your experiences?
Spending years out west definitely introduced me to wild game such as Elk, Bison, and Pheasant. I have always been a fisherman, so I love fish and seafood. I think you will see some varied influences reflected in my menus.
What is the type of staff you are looking for?
Fun and Creative. Some of the best dishes I have served started out in a kitchen when somebody said “what if we put ___ with ___?” Three or four days later what started as a joke or a challenge turns into a menu item. Creativity, and, the ability to enjoy food. You can’t take this to seriously. At no point will we ever cure a disease out of a kitchen but as Chef’s we can make your evening much better.