Taste Fall 2016

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IN THE KITCHEN with Executive Chef Karla Williams at Hilton Head Health BY BARRY KAUFMAN • PHOTO BY ROB KAUFMAN

While the supreme tranquility and tantalizing array of healthy options on the menu at Hilton Head Health have been common knowledge among thousands of visitors for decades, it’s only recently that locals have become hip to some of the magic happening at H3. But they’re starting to find out in a big way, and no small amount of credit needs to go to Karla Williams, executive chef and food & beverage director at Hilton Head Health. Not only does she bring a lifetime of passion for healthy cooking to the table, she’s also become quite the ambassador for H3’s unique philosophy. For proof, you need look no further than her recent appearance on the syndicated show of health and wellness media icon Dr. Oz. “I’m used to talking through my food versus just talking,” she said with a laugh. 32


“So it was a whole different experience for me.” If she’s not used to talking, it certainly didn’t show during her segment, which focused on healthy recipes that can be prepared using the grill. It’s not often you see a studio audience applaud grilled vegetable flatbread, but the whole segment saw Williams adeptly guiding them through options like grilled pineapple and mango salsa to audible oohs and aahs. So what’s Dr. Oz like in person? According to Williams, “He is Super Friendly and I was overwhelmed by the hospitality I received from both him and the staff of the Dr. Oz Show.” The appearance on the show, taped in the spotlights of ABC Studios in New York City, marked the culmination of a multi- media blitz for Williams. Originally

tapped to present a few dishes to a writer from Oz’s magazine, “The Good Life,” Williams soon found herself providing nearly a dozen recipes for what turned out to be an extensive six-page spread. “Things aligned very nicely for us. They liked the recipes, they saw a few videos of me, they said ‘let’s have her come on the show,’” Williams explained. From there, it was a trip that Williams described as “kind of a whirlwind.” Viewing her segment and speaking to her, it’s easy to see why Williams makes such a great ambassador for Hilton Head Health. It’s not just her expertise and charm in front of the cameras, it’s her devotion to Hilton Head Health’s core values and how well they align with her own. “I’m a believer in Hilton Head Health and what we do here, and I feel like I live the life of balance,” Williams said. “I’m very serious about my career. But I’m also a big Crossfitter and I try to eat healthy. I try to walk the walk.” Indeed, Williams has been walking the walk since middle school. Growing up as an athlete (soccer and volleyball), she realized at a young age the vital link between nutrition and general wellbeing. When she ate well, it showed on the field. Her junior year of high school, she started taking what she knew about nutrition and applying it in the kitchen. “I became curious and played around, asking ‘What can I do with this food?’” she said. “It was a lot of messing around and playing with flavors and making a lot of mistakes.” With a laugh, she added “My dad ate a lot of things that… I don’t know how he choked them down. He was extremely supportive, though.” But by trial and error, Williams eventually learned the building blocks of what would become her eventual career. These basics were refined by a twoyear program at The Chef’s Academy in Indianapolis. “I loved every minute of it,” she said. Williams excelled at the program, and when it came time to find an internship, one of the requirements at The Chef’s

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