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Chef Ben Williams

Chef at The Chopping Block since: 2017

Favorite class to teach: Anything involving grilled meats

Training/education: 14 years in restaurant kitchens and a Master of Science degree in Advanced Music Production.

Cooking since: Professionally since 2003

Favorite childhood food experience: My dad’s corned beef hash, or my Gran’s leek and potato soup with garlic croutons. I’ve got her recipe, but I still can’t make it taste that good. My mother showed me how to make a French vinaigrette with raw garlic, and I’ve been a garlic fiend ever since.

What made you want to become a chef? It started off as just a job that I liked, but as I began to realize the creative possibilities and the endless world of cooking knowledge and technique, I quickly became fascinated and then completely obsessed. I still am.

What is your signature dish? Scotch Eggs, hot and crispy with a runny yolk.

What are the 5 ingredients you can't live without? Garlic, Thyme, Butter, Dijon Mustard, Lemon Juice

What do you love about cooking? I love that it is an art and a craft and a science. I love that everyone can relate to and talk about food, and I love that I get to do something for a living which makes people happy.

When you're creating a new recipe, what influences and inspires you? Usually an unfamiliar ingredient, and whatever I have in the pantry.

What advice would you give a new cook? Season, taste everything and practice every day.

What are you doing when you're not cooking? Sleeping, swimming, watching movies.

Describe your perfect evening. Friends, grilled meats, good music, fine Bourbon and rum.

If you had friends in from out of town, where would you take them to eat? Hot dogs while watching a ball game at Wrigley Field, then cocktails at The Aviary.

Where are you from? Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom

What was your favorite vacation? Hong Kong & Hanoi

What are your hobbies? I play guitar and piano and do a little woodworking.

What is your favorite band? I have far too many, but a good cross-section might be Queen, Tool, Clutch, Kyuss, Keith Jarrett, Miles Davis, The Band, The Specials, Lord Huron, Talking Heads, Townes Van Zandt, Vulfpeck.

What is your favorite sports team? Chicago Cubs

If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be? I couldn’t pick just one: Doug Stanhope, Christopher Hitchens and Hunter S. Thompson. That would be a fun night!

What are your guilty pleasures? Cheese, Chocolate and Cinnabon cereal

Who is your favorite celebrity chef? The late, great, Keith Floyd

What 5 tools should every new cook have in the kitchen?

  • Digital Scale
  • Diamond and Ceramic Honing Steels
  • Digital Temperature Probe
  • 8" Chef Knife
  • Digital Timer

What resources would you suggest for Chopping Block clients? YouTube. There are so many good channels out there! I really like Chefsteps, Bruno Albouze and the Harvard ‘Science and Cooking’ lectures.   

List three of your favorite tips or techniques you use in the kitchen.

  • Think about acidity. So many dishes and sauces can be brightened by a squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the finish. Use things like capers and pickled shallots for little bursts of acidity throughout a dish.
  • Always buy whole chickens. Learn how to debone them, and freeze all the bones for stock and sauce. A highly reduced stock-based sauce is absolutely priceless.
  • Always save your fats. Bacon fat, chicken, chorizo, duck fat – use them for confiting, sautéing, add them to breads and pastries for an extra layer of flavor.
Ben's Favorite Tool

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The Vitamix. It is a perfectly designed machine, and built like a tank. I am always amazed how smooth I can make my soups and purees. My top tip is to freeze an ice cream base, and smash it in the Vitamix at the last minute for a perfect texture. It’s so easy!

And, perhaps the most important use… perfectly smooth frozen Margaritas and Pina Coladas!