Willie Cooper, First Chef of the Pierson College Dining Hall, was born on a farm in South Carolina. His father sent him out to the fields to pick cotton at age eleven. Willie picked in a week what the other workers picked in a day.
Willie has worked at Yale for more than 30 years and has been a chef at the Pierson Dining Hall for eighteen. Most students know him for his familiar grin and a greeting of “What’s up, boss?,” but in the kitchen he doesn’t hesitate to keep his coworkers in line.
The kitchen staff in Pierson will tell you Willie likes to joke around to keep the time moving.
“Man, this stir-fry is too good to be Willie Cooper’s!” said one dining hall worker.
Despite his antics, Willie takes pride in his work and shows a diligence akin to what one might see in a chef in any five-star restaurant. Willie jokes and “trash-talks” but he also keeps the dining hall running smoothly. When the managers aren’t around, Willie rules the kitchen, and even when they are present it is clear that Willie runs the show.
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