Mark Williams began his culinary career at the Jack and Jill Kindergarten in the early 1960s, where he won first prize for his realistic Play-doh food creations. From theses auspicious beginnings, Mark managed an Atlanta restaurant at the age of seventeen. He then went on to the position of head chef at J. Henrys Restaurant in Griffin , Georgia . Returning to Atlanta , Mark completed an American Culinary Federation apprenticeship at the Atlanta Athletic Club, and received his bachelors degree in Restaurant Administration from Georgia State University .
He was recruited by Paul Albrecht and Pano Karatassos to join their prestigious Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, working at several of their well-loved restaurants, including 103 West and Pano and Pauls. He was the chef at their Fish Market, which won four Best of Atlanta Awards during his time there. Mark considers Chef Paul to be his mentor, from whom he learned the valuable lessons of cooking from the heart. His interest in food and wine pairing led him to California where he was a founding member of the Napa Valley Culinary Alliance. He worked at Beringer Vineyards with Madeline Kamman, who was then the director of the American School for Chefs, and also with Gary Danko at Souverain. Mark opened his own catering company in Napa Valley and was chef-in-residence at Sonoma Cutrer and Guenoc Wineries. He worked with the chefs at Mondavi Vineyards, and cooked for director Francis Ford Coppola on the set of two movies. He was also a chef for George Lucas at the Skywalker Ranch in Marin County .
His desire to return to his southern roots led Mark to Kentucky , where he was the chef at the Boone Tavern in Berea , an historic hotel with an old tradition of fine Southern cuisine.
He has prepared meals for many notables, including current President George Bush Jr., former President Bill Clinton, Muhammed Ali, Julia Child, Shoichiro Toyoda (the founder of Toyota Motors), and the Royal Family of Dubai.
Mark is proud to be a Kentucky colonel, and a member of numerous culinary organizations. His love of travel has led him to explore the wine regions of Europe , New Zealand and South Africa .
His keen interest in cooking with spirits has led him to his current position as Executive Chef for the Bourbon Street Cafe, at Brown-Forman headquarters in Louisville , Kentucky . Daily menu changes allow for innovation, with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients. He is currently writing a cookbook featuring the historic Labrot and Graham Distillery. Mark believes Kentucky should be celebrated for its distinct culinary tradition and he enjoys sharing its many unique products- especially the Bourbon.