October 2, 2023

Chef Will: A Matter of Taste

As steam swirls around him and savory smells fill the air, Sodexo Executive Chef William Allison is in his element. His utensils expertly scrape across the flat-top grill, flipping and tossing colorful vegetables and seasoned meats for the swarm of students about to enter the top floor of UMW’s University Center.

chef1Affectionately known as “Chef Will” by the Mary Washington community, the Marine Corps veteran – he served for nearly 24 years – and professional chef has whipped up specialties for everyone from four-star generals to famished college students, and participated in numerous cooking competitions.

He brings a bounty of fresh ideas and positive mantras – “get it done,” “never say no” – to the university scene, where he provides delicious, filling food for students and faculty daily. But he’s currently preparing for one of the semester’s most anticipated meals: Thanksgiving dinner, which feeds 12 to 14 hundred people. While he can’t give away any secrets about the dishes he’s cooking up for next week’s holiday feast, students and faculty can rest assured that this year’s Thanksgiving meal will be mouth-watering.

Q: What was your first experience with cooking?

A: When I was 12, I worked at a Japanese soup kitchen, and after that, I went to work at a Greek steakhouse.

Q: What inspired you to start cooking?

A: My mom. She was an amazing cook.

Q: What was your favorite dish your mom made?

A: Smothered pork chops

Q: What do you love most about being a university chef?

A: The camaraderie I have with my staff and building relationships with students

Q: What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish?

A: My favorite dish, period, of all time, is candied sweet potatoes – the marshmallows, raisins, brown sugar. Fabulous!

Q: What most excites you about the annual UMW Thanksgiving dinner?

A: Turkey – everybody loves turkey. And seeing the students happy.