Chef William McNeill
Executive Chef at the George Washington Hotel
Chef William McNeill’s goal is to make the George Washington Hotel a Gathering Spot for Winchester
“My food style incorporates my southern upbringing with a French influence.”
“My approach to food is a product of my southern roots formal training received in culinary school, and the many experiences that have led me here”. Born in Georgia, Chef Will brings a soulful, yet elegant touch to George’s Food & Spirits.
Guilty pleasure snack: Chocolate
Favorite meal at home: Barbecue
My most essential item in the kitchen: Knife
My new favorite tool: Immersion Circulator – Sous Vide
The one condiment I can’t live without: Texas Pete Hot Sauce
An Interview with Chef William McNeill of George’s Food & Spirits
Why the Shenandoah Valley as home?
While working at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, I received an opportunity to work at Chevy Chase Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland. While it was a great opportunity, the grandeur of Washington, D.C. wore quickly due to terrible traffic and missed time with the family. “The Shenandoah Valley reminded me a lot of the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Northern Georgia. The rolling hills, farms, and vineyards just felt like a homecoming to me.”
What led you to become a chef?
I have always felt connected to the land and I come from a long line of farmers in Southern Georgia. My family is still heavily involved in Agriculture and Farming. I’ve always had a passion for cooking and entertaining for as long as I can remember. Southern hospitality and food are a way of life in the south and is definitely where my inspiration came from. My passion for food and hospitality led me to attend Johnson & Wales University in North Carolina.
Working in the kitchen with family
My late Grandmother is the one that ignited my passion for cooking at a young age. Some of my earliest childhood memories I have are of me cooking with my grandmother. I would stand on a chair and she would teach and guide me along, always patient. My grandmother also taught my mother how to cook so I am still outranked and outmatched, she’s a bad woman in the kitchen.
What was your favorite dish as a child?
Country Fried Steak with Brown Gravy & my Grandmother’s Biscuits!
What is your training or have you learned from experience alone?
At Johnson & Wales University, I received a Culinary Degree, as well as, a Hospitality Management Degree. I was fortunate enough to apprentice with some great chefs, most namely, Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 in Lower East Side, New York City. That experience led to opportunities to work with David Chang and Daniel Boulud. It was an unforgettable experience, but again, my southern roots began to pull me back home, eventually leading me here, The George Washington Hotel. I’m a product of formal training, great mentors, and a lot of experience.
Is there anyone who specifically inspired you to become a chef?
There are so many inspirations throughout my life of people and family that encouraged me to follow my dreams and become a chef. It’s an incredible feeling when your passion and purpose align, and you can truly enjoy what you do in life. Not to say there aren’t any challenges, but I truly love what I do. It’s a culmination of people and experiences that led me to become the chef I am today. There are just so many people that made contributions and I’m so grateful to them all.
What food styles have you brought into the kitchen based on your experiences?
Obviously, my southern roots are a major influence on my upbringing in Southern Georgia and Northern Alabama. I love the low and slow method of southern cooking. The deep flavors and amazing aromas, the formal training, and French Influence simply refines the cuisine, offering a modern presentation.
What is the type of staff you are looking for?
Anyone can be taught menu items and service standards. We’re looking for people that are dedicated to their craft and have a true passion for the industry. Someone that is committed and reliable. Because of the importance of guest satisfaction, both the front of the house and back of the house has to share the responsibility and vision to create this experience.