Chef William Turner – Southern Migration

“My primary canvas is the palate, not the plate. The depth and array of flavors I can create far exceeds the visual possibilities. With the rise of TV Food and Instagram Food, some people are now focusing much more on visuals and how food looks. To me, presentation certainly matters, but, not nearly as much as flavor, texture, depth, and consistency.”
Chef William Turner
William Turner

There is no doubt that food was among the first elements of human domination to receive thoughtful aesthetic attention. That will also make food preparation perhaps our most ancient art form.

Each successive generation of people have determined that the mastery of food preparation will be a driving motivation in pursuing life’s abundance. The term ‘chef’ has only been around for a couple hundred years, but the dedication to food required to earn the title has likely been around as long as we have exercised an awareness of our habitat.

Enter Chef William Turner. Mr.Turner is surely one of those dedicated people. Schooled in food preparation since his youth, Chef William Turner started down the path of catered preparation when he worked as a chef for the DeBordieu (that’s pronounced De-bah-doo in South Carolina) Country Club in South Carolina.

There was a point in the creative cookery education in his native South Carolina when Chef William Turner woke up with an itch to ’taste’ more of the country and started expanding his repertoire in the national kitchen by working in resorts from the Southeast to the Rocky Mountains. Three years ago he landed in The Valley here in Arizona and has worked exclusively as a private chef, catering to small parties and hosted events ever since.

Let’s bring in the chef and dig a little deeper.

“The kitchen has always been my special ‘happy place.’ Even after almost 30 years when I step into a clean professional kitchen, I get goosebumps and butterflies.”
Chef William Turner
William Turner

How did you finally land in Arizona?

My jobs took me to some very wonderful places and I was confronted with different temptations for settling down. However my grandmother had moved to Tucson years earlier and my aunt later followed suit so family roots were already being established in Arizona. So bringing my training in Southern hospitality to the Southwest was a natural and comfortable move following a variety of prep and catering experiences.

Back to the early years, when did you realize the direction you wanted to take?

I was probably 10 or 11 years old when I realized I loved creating new flavors. I was the kid adding many different, healthy toppings to my frozen pizza after school. I was always an adventurous eater. But I was probably 19 or 20 when I started to understand that I felt truly content, comfortable, and totally at home in a kitchen. The kitchen has always been my special “happy place.” Even after almost 30 years when I step into a clean professional kitchen I get goosebumps and butterflies.

Do you have any specialities?

I focus on technique and contrasting flavors more than a specific cuisine. But my roots are in the southern states, from the South Carolina coast to New Orleans. Southern flare is reflected in everything I do. Also I can add that French, Italian, and Creole are probably the other styles that are most reflected in my dishes.

Are there ingredients that you favor or disfavor?

The simple winners that I may have taken for granted early on, I now revere. Being a private chef, I’ve found that cross utilization is huge, so the versatility of the potato and the importance of garlic are a couple of the foods I can’t live without and of course the egg may be the most underrated food in the world.

On the other side, I try to avoid gluten, nuts, and pork from most dishes.Those ingredients are not necessary in my cooking anymore. Also, processed foods have done a number on American’s digestive systems. Allergies are also more common, so it only makes sense to cut my use of these back significantly.

Does each prep constitute a new canvas? Is every preparation unique?

Although I do have set menus available, I do everything specifically for each individual client. When I cook for someone I want it to be unique for them. I never batch cook or batch prep; I scratch cook as much as possible.

What are some memorable personal accomplishments?

I was named “The #1 Private Chef in Phoenix” by Phoenix Entrepreneurs Magazine. I was also named a “Yelp Business All-Star.” I feel most proud of my stellar 5-star rating across all rating platforms.That particular achievement is very special to me because the 5-star ratings came directly from clients. I can now say that I have cooked for more than 700 private clients ranging from celebrities to CEOs to hundreds of happy bachelorettes from all across the U.S. and Canada. All of the corporate dinner parties, special anniversary dinners, small wedding receptions, and customized bachelorette parties that I have organized and catered for have created wonderful memories for people. I am proud of my team and for my assistant Laura Lieder who makes sure our clients are over-the-top happy with the food, service and overall experience.

Can you give an eggshell (I avoided nutshell) version of Chef William Turner?

I love to take classics and give them a new twist, I cook with love in my heart as I truly believe it comes out in the finished product. I choose to freestyle and go where my inspiration takes me. I’m also a little bit of a rebel – but try not to get crazy, just to be different. I have a deep love for food, for people, and for creating a good time. I also love good conversation and this is something that’s bound to happen when you’re around good food.

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Chef William Turner

Chef William Turner – Southern Migration | ARTSource Arizona Volume 6

Interviewed by Erick Hale

Author: ARTSource

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