Gregory Williams

Years of Participation


Born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina, Greg Williams has always been close to family and food. His parents and grandmother — his inspirations — instilled a hardworking mentality in him that he exemplified as he worked his way up in the food and beverage industry.

Williams attended high school in Connecticut, and then moved to Charlotte in 2004 to study culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University. While in school, he got a job at Cans Bar and Grill as a dishwasher and soon moved up to the fryer, grill and flattop. He was a quick learner with a strong work ethic that impressed chefs.

He then went on to hold leadership roles in the kitchens at Harper’s Restaurant, Levy Restaurants facilities, and former restaurants in the Uptown Marriott hotel including Savannah Red, Champions Sports Bar and Cutters Cigar Bar.

During his professional cooking career, Williams learned a lot about curing meats, cutting and processing meats, broiler cooking and other techniques, which led him to move back to Columbia to open a deli called ANDeli’s in 2012. After two years, he decided to pursue other business ventures and opened What The Fries with co-owner Jamie Barnes.

Described as quiet, low-key and reserved, William’s food is the opposite: “I enjoy creating dishes that pop with color,” Williams explains. “I always felt like people eat with their eyes first, so I like for the food to first be visually appealing and then to taste amazing.”

Williams is a founding member of Soul Food Sessions, a nonprofit pop-up dining series that raises money for scholarships to help minority culinary students. One of his proudest professional achievements was cooking at the James Beard House with the Soul Food Sessions crew in 2019. Other charity dinners he has participated in have supported 100 Black Men of Greater Charlotte, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing educational opportunities for African American youth.

Williams resides in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and has a daughter. Looking forward, he aspires to open multiple What the Fries brick-and-mortar locations in Charlotte and in different cities.