Willie Harris, native of Manning and a lover of all things in the kitchen, is currently the Chef at Porter Jacks Grill in Manning.
“I have been cooking for over twenty years and fifteen of those years as a professional chef,” said Harris. “I remember watching my mom and grandma cook as a child and being very interested in what they were doing. One day, I was watching tv and saw Julia Child making a biscuit. I remember thinking how cool that was and I just wanted to do it.”Harris attended a culinary arts class at F.E.Dubose Career Center in his high school years under the guidance of Jean Shaw and his love of cooking skyrocketed.
“He was an outstanding student, always willing to try different cooking styles and use different spices,” said Shaw. “I teach by the recipes then encourage the students to be creative and make the dish their own. Willie was very good at do this and always wanted to learn more and make the recipes different.”Harris went with Shaw to Culinary Arts competition winning for the District and placing second at the state level. “Placing second at State, while a huge accomplishment may discourage some students, but it did not discourage Willie at all” recalls Shaw. “He continued to work hard in the kitchen and obtained several scholarships to help pave the path for him to attend Johnson and Wales.” Johnson and Wales is a private culinary arts college located in Charleston, South Carolina.
“Mrs. Shaw opened up something inside of me that hasn’t stopped yet,” said Harris. “I learned so much from her before going to college.”Harris graduated from Johnson and Wales and has been creating culinary masterpieces nonstop since graduating. “Over the years I have worked in Charleston, Santee and Sumter so many people may have already eaten my cooking and not even know it,” smiled Harris. “When it comes to cooking, I love to please the soul with flavor, love and fresh ingredients done my way. I am seafood guy and especially enjoy preparing and creating dishes with seafood, pasta and steak.” Harris seems to have found a home at Porter Jacks Grill. “I came to Porter Jacks Grill because of the style of restaurant it is and also I have the ability to use all my culinary skills and talent at a high volume.” “He is one of the most creative chefs I have ever had the pleasure to work with,” said Wendy Davis owner of Porter Jacks Grill. “He is such a pleasure to work with and has the most contagious smile.” Porter Jack's Grill is located at 505 South Mill Street in front of the hospital.