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March 19, 2013

Chef Wanted: Former local girl wins job in Los Angeles

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — An alumna of Bush Elementary School recently won an executive chef job at Culina restaurant at the Four Seasons motel in Los Angeles.

Mette Williams, the former chef of Areal in Santa Monica, emerged the champion on the Food Network show, “Chef Wanted With Anne Burrell,” in December. Each week four candidates competed for an executive chef job.

The show aired on March 7.

Williams moved to California with her mother and worked with Wolfgang Puck at Spago and Cut restaurant in Beverly Hills.

While in Laurel County, she attended Bush Elementary School. Her father, Bobby Williams, is deceased and her mother is from California. She has a grandmother, Mary Verna Williams; an aunt, Brenda Bangert; an uncle who is an attorney, Jason Williams; and several cousins and friends who still reside in Laurel County.

“I watched the TV show. It was very exciting,” her grandmother, Mary Williams, said. “I thought she did a super job and didn’t get scared. She worked very hard. That’s not an easy job.”

Her uncle, Jason Williams, said Williams was a wonderful person, very driven and very dedicated at being a chef.

“She’s been working hard at it for many years. She has worked for Wolfgang Puck in the past,” he said.

Mette Williams, 33, was employed at Areal when she got a call from the Food Network. They said they wanted to get a female for a new episode they were filming and needed to know if she could do it by the next morning. She had never done a competition before.

The first day was a little difficult because there was so much stop and go for filming, she said. The hardest thing to do was the full dinner service. That was the most challenging because you had to create a small menu, not just a couple dishes for judges.

Williams wants to put more of the food of the areas surrounding Italy into the menu, make it more modern Italian and reflective of California, which has a similar Mediterranean climate and so much fresh produce.

Some of the dishes she plans on fixing are ravioli with ricotta and egg yolk with crab ragout; bruschetta of marinated sardines, pickled chilies and burrata; and steamed mussels with roasted tomatoes, fennel and Moroccan chermoula.

Williams said Burrell told her to stay focused, use strong flavors, and keep the plates clean.

“I proved to myself that I can put my neck on the line and cook the food I know and love and get rewarded for it,” she told the Los Angeles Times after she won.

Some information for this article obtained from the Los Angeles Times.

cmills@sentinel-echo.com

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