About the Chef's

About the Chefs

The Tennessee Aquarium’s 2013 Serve & Protect live cooking shows will focus on Gulf Seafood. Two chefs, with two different approaches, will serve up fun during the “Decapod Duel,” a savory cook-off exploring the culinary possibilities of shrimp and crayfish. Expect Southern sizzle with a Cajun twist as Celebrity Chef Virginia Willis shares the IMAX stage with highly acclaimed New Orleans Chef Susan Spicer.   


Willis is described as a classically-trained, truly Southern chef who mixes fun into the approachable recipes she creates. She authored the acclaimed cookbooks, “Bon Appétit, Y’all” and “Basic to Brilliant, Y’all,” is a contributing editor to Southern Living and has produced more than 1,000 TV episodes, working for Martha Stewart, Bobby Flay and as Executive Producer for Epicurious on The Discovery Channel. In addition to being featured in USA Today, Country Living and CNN, Willis has appeared on Food Network’s “Chopped” and served as a judge on, “Throw Down with Bobby Flay.”

As a sustainable seafood advocate, Willis serves on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force. Her popular food blog often focuses on sustainability by making wise seafood choices and supporting locally-sourced food.

Spicer is a one-woman industry in New Orleans. Among her many awards, Spicer has been named one of Food and Wine's 10 Best New Chefs and received the James Beard Award for Best Chef, Southeast Region, 1993. Her French Quarter restaurant, Bayona, has been featured in Bon Appetit and has been listed as one of the top 5 restaurants in the Zagat Guide for New Orleans. She has received the DiRoNa designation from Distinguished Restaurants of North America and the Robert Mondavi Culinary Award of Excellence. In May 2010, Susan was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.

Spicer appeared on the Bravo television program Top Chef during the finale in 2009. Susan is also credited with inspiring a Hollywood persona. Ms. Desautel, a character in the HBO series Treme, a television series depicting post-Katrina New Orleans, was loosely based on Spicer’s career.

Why It Matters To You

Our ocean makes life on land possible, providing most of our oxygen, governing weather and climate and providing food. A healthy ocean needs a richly diverse web of life. Unfortunately, human appetite for a few species of fish has upset the balance of nature. Learn how to make wise seafood choices that will benefit our ocean.

Take Action

We’re glad you’re passionate about helping improve the health of our oceans. Making wise seafood decisions is just the beginning. There are a number of ways you can act, and lead others, to protect life from our backyards to the saltwater world downstream.

Culinary Partners

Many of Chattanooga’s finest restaurants and caterers are participating in the Aquarium’s “Serve & Protect” program. Local chefs offer sustainable choices at their establishments and catering companies offer sustainable options for special events. The Aquarium’s culinary partners are ready to help patrons discover delectable menu options that help support a healthy ocean.

Seafood Recipes

Cook one of our savory seafood recipes specifically created for the Aquarium’s “Serve and Protect” program. New recipes are posted regularly so check back often.

2012 Serve and Protect Photos

The Tennessee Aquarium welcomed old friends and new to a delightful evening with famed foodist Alton Brown, who inspired all of us to try new sustainable seafood options. The event netted more than $115,000 to support the Aquarium’s mission critical work in education, conservation and community impact.

Special Gift Shop Items

Check out our gift shop items featuring cookbooks, a special seafood spice blend, a limited edition cast iron Serve & Protect skillet by Lodge Manufacturing and Serve & Protect coffee mugs.

Our Progress Report

Learn how the Tennessee Aquarium continues advancing the sustainable seafood conversation in Chattanooga through ongoing Serve & Protect programs.