Born and raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Douglass Williams was, in a way, destined for the hospitality industry. With parents who loved to cook – and subsequently met at a restaurant where they both worked – Williams was taught to make scrambled eggs with a wooden spoon at just four years of age. In high school, he was drawn to the kitchen in home economics class, started his first restaurant job, and watched the Bocuse d’Or at just fifteen. It wasn’t, however, until he was forced to truly understand food that a real passion developed. At seventeen, following surgery for Crohn’s disease and fueled by a newfound interest in wellness, Williams learned about cooking using clean foods and whole produce. He graduated and enrolled in culinary school, earning a degree from The Academy of Culinary Arts at Atlantic Cape Community College.
Joining the myriad of grads at local casino kitchens, Williams got his feet wet but wasn’t satisfied. After spotting award-winning Chef Michael Schlow in an ad for cooking school, his drive was ignited, and he spent the next six months calling Radius in search of a job. Persistence paid off, and he got what he calls a life-altering experience, a position at the critically-acclaimed Boston restaurant where he honed his skills for the next 2.5 years.
When another well-regarded chef announced his next project, Williams jumped at the chance to expand his repertoire. He joined the opening team at Coppa in 2010 as a pasta cook, crediting Jamie Bissonnette as a huge inspiration to this day.
A year later, in search of culinary exploration, Williams traveled through Southeast Asia for three months. In Bangkok he cooked with Lat Phonchaiya,“Queen of Curry,” and then worked at an entirely sustainable resort in Chumphon. There, he shared his pasta-making skills and in turn learned how to knead rice dough for confections and traditional applications. Before returning home, a two-week getaway to Sardinia included training to make culurgiones, the island’s traditional ravioli.
Landing back in New York, Williams joined Chef Paul Liebrandt at Michelin-starred Corton. For two years, he continued to develop his knowledge base as chef de partie, focusing on meat, saucing, and plating. Then, at Liebrandt’s recommendation, Williams continued on to join the team at Akrame, another Michelin-starred restaurant, in Paris, where he found the inspiration to open his own restaurant.
Two years later, Williams opened MIDA, an Italian influenced neighborhood restaurant, in Boston’s South End.