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August Member Spotlight

Food For Thought with Chef William Walker

Last Updated 5 Year(s) ago

William Walker is the manager of the Auburn Wellness Kitchen and a dining services employee of Auburn University and Auburn Athletic Department. The Wellness Kitchen provides high quality food in a nutritionally balanced buffet-style setting. In its mission to better serve students, The Wellness Kitchen has the ability to customize menu items to meet the nutritional demands of students with special dietary needs.  The facility also contains Auburn’s first gluten/allergen-free prep area.

Walker and Auburn University Hotel and Conference Center Executive Chef Leonardo Maurelli, recently taught high school students in a weekly culinary class at the Opelika Learning Center. Students cooked with food produced from their own garden. Chef Walker created the OLC Culinary Class on GoFundMe to help offset equipment and extra food costs. Chef Walker and Chef Maurelli teach voluntarily and fund the classroom out-of-pocket.

Tell us how you first got involved with the Recreation and Wellness Center.

I started working out on my own then realized I needed some direction. I started using a trainer, and eventually we both trained and ran a Spartan Race together.

What three words would you use to describe The Rec or your experience here? 

Life changing. Fun. Challenging. 

What do you find most challenging about living healthy? 

Managing my schedule and being intentional about making the right choices. As a husband, father and full-time employee, it is not always easy to find balance, but it is important.

What do you consider to be the best part of managing the Wellness Kitchen? 

The ability to interact with all of the students. I have had the privilege to become good friends with some of the young men and women that come through the doors each day and watch them grow.

Have you always had a healthy relationship with food?

As a chef I have always loved food and still do. It is truly a blessing to be able to make something that can touch someone’s life in such an extraordinary way. Food is what brings us together and brings back those fun memories from our past. When you can do that, you have done your job. So yes, I have always had a healthy relationship with food.

Do you have any tips for building healthier cooking habits? 

Substitutions, I am all about good tasting food. So finding healthier substitutions is always important. I use a lot of vegetable broths in most of my sauces and to cook with when cooking rice or other grains.  You can reduce it and it will create a very intense flavor that can used to finish something with instead of finishing with butter. This is a great way to add umami to a dish and not even know it. I also try to only use leaner meats and cook with either fresh or frozen vegetables (steam in a bag).

When dining out, what can students do to make healthier choices?

Just be aware of what you are eating. We all love burgers, fries, and pizza. Instead of eating burgers with fries, maybe get a salad or no side at all. Healthy eating is common, but that does not mean that I don’t get fries sometimes. I just don’t do it every day.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

That I am a former Marine and classically trained chef.

If you could be any piece of equipment in The Rec, what would you be and why? 

I would be the Jacobs ladder. I believe that it pushes you to work harder and get better.

What was I thinking when…

I decided to run a Spartan Race. I have no regrets, and now I’m looking forward to running a second one.

  1. Chef William Walker
    Source: Jack Parrish
  2. Chef William Walker
    Source: Jack Parrish
  3. Chef William Walker
    Source: Jack Parrish
  4. Chef William Walker
    Source: Jack Parrish
  5. Chef William Walker
    Source: Jack Parrish
  6. Chef William Walker
    Source: Jack Parrish