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Chef Spotlight: William Dissen

Chef Spotlight: William Dissen

SW: Tell us a little about your cooking background! What ignited your culinary passion?

WD: I started cooking as a child when I was introduced to fresh food and ingredients at my grandparent's farm in West Virginia. As one of my first jobs I was drawn to the kitchen and started out as a dishwasher at a local country club in my hometown of Charleston, WV. I quickly made my way on to the line as a cook and never looked back. As I went to high school and college, I worked my way through school at various restaurants and finally decided that I wanted to pursue a career in the culinary arts and after my undergraduate degree I moved to New York to attend The Culinary Institute of America. I have always been hungry, and cooking is what I was born to do. It's my profession, but it's also my love.

SW: So, how did you get started in the professional culinary world?

WD: After culinary school I moved back to WV and started the apprentice program at the esteemed Greenbrier Resort under Master Chefs Timmins and Rosendale. From there I moved to SC and worked at esteemed restaurants in Charleston, eventually making my way to Columbia SC to attend graduate school at the University of South Carolina for a master's degree in International Hospitality and Tourism Management. And this path finally led me to Asheville where I became the chef and owner of the renowned restaurant, The Market Place. 

SW: What does a usual day in the life look like for you?

WD: I'm always up early and multitasking. Chasing kids, exercise, emails, and in the kitchen. Managing multiple businesses takes a lot of organization (and coffee). For me it's about the mise en place in the kitchen and in life to keep things balanced. 

SW: What are your favorite dishes you prepare for folks?

WD: I love to cook what's fresh and in season. When vegetables and fruits are at their peak, it makes cooking so much more fun and delicious! 

SW: How’d you hear about Spicewalla?

WD: I've been friends with Meherwan Irani since he opened Chai Pani restaurant. It's actually right across the street from my restaurant, The Market Place. After tasting his spices, I knew that they were fresh, bright and full of flavor. Some of my favorite blends are the new mignonette for raw oysters, the Piri Piri, and the Kashmiri Garam Masala from the Vishwesh Bhatt collection. 

SW: What was your side of the inspiration for this blend we created together? How’d you want folks to feel while cooking with it?

WD: We've been working with Spicewalla at my restaurant Billy D's Fried Chicken since day one when we opened. I use the blend in my popular fried chicken dredge, and it's gained a cult following. We wanted to be able to get the spice out into people's homes so they can try it for themselves. You can use the spice blend for your favorite fried chicken, and it's also delicious to use to season steak or vegetables. I'm excited for folks at home to taste our unique and exciting flavors! 

Click here to learn to make this fried chicken for yourself!

SW: Favorite experiences? Things that really make you feel really proud?

WD: We work to source local and sustainable ingredients for our restaurants. This has led us to be hyper connected to our community and to become advocates for creating a better food system. Some of my favorite experiences are being able to cook for people and help them get reconnected with where their food comes from. I'm really proud of our team this year at The Market Place for being nominated for a James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant in America! I'm also very proud of launching my new cookbook, "Thoughtful Cooking: Recipes Rooted in the New South".

SW: What are you excited about in the food world right now? What inspires you?

WD: I love to see a return to clean and explosive flavors. I feel like a lot of the fuss is behind us now and chefs are creating menus that can be rustic and refined and really put the showcase on the ingredients and dial in their style of cooking. I'm inspired by our great local farmers and our tailgate markets here in Asheville. I also love to travel and try new food, meet new people, and expand my knowledge about culture, heritage, and cuisine.

SW: What’re you looking ahead to? Where can folks check you, your work, and your flavours out?

WD: I'm looking ahead to spreading the word about my new cookbook. I have some other exciting concepts in the works and can't wait to share more about them. I am also excited to continue growing The Market Place. We're celebrating our 45th anniversary this year! 


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