The best meal every time: ARW chef gets creative in the kitchen –

Restaurant News

Williamsport, Pa. — Mark Williams goes by the title of kitchen operations manager at the American Rescue Workers, preparing meals for up to 150 people a day at the facility.

But soon he might be considered America’s Favorite Chef.

Well known for his upbeat presence in the kitchen and his delicious cooking, Williams is in the running for a contest sponsored by Feeding America to recognize, through a public online voting process, America’s Favorite Chef.

The winner of the contest receives a cash prize and a feature in Bon Appetit Magazine.

There’s good reason for Williams to be considered. Unlike a chef in an upscale restaurant, Williams chooses his menu each day based on the donations he receives at the American Rescue Workers. 


The ARW pantry is stocked with items donated from grocery stores, farmers markets, and individuals. 

“Until I get a donation of beef, pork, chicken, turkey,” Williams said, he doesn’t know what he is going to prepare for the day. “From there I have to plan it out. Can I make this stretch for 80 people and what can I use in my dry pantry to help me accomplish the meal?” 

Does he whip open a cookbook and measure out ingredients? “There are no recipes here,” he said. “It’s just taste, the guys in the kitchen helping me, and a lot of passion. I want to make them feel like they’re eating the best meal they ever had.”

He has many fans already, from the residents and staff at the ARW to the larger community. “He is a rock star chef!” said one fan on social media. “I LOVE when I get the opportunity to indulge in one of his meals!”


Screenshot of Williams’ profile on Feeding America Favorite Chef’s website.

Fans can vote daily for Williams on his Feeding America Favorite Chef profile. Through March 4, public votes will reduce each group to the top ten entrants. From March 4 -11, votes will propel candidates to the top five. Voting from March 11-18 will reduce each group to one preliminary winner, and the quarter finals are held March 19-25. Voting will continue through April 8 when a winner will be announced.


Sweet potato, garbanzo beans, a dazzle of spices, and a drop of sweet honey makes this veggie burger both delectable and full of nutritional value. spent some time with Williams to learn how he juggles the donations, the menu, and the quantities to make delicious meals each day for his customers.

Using his ingenuity in the kitchen, Williams concocted an original sweet potato, garbanzo bean veggie burger, both spicy and sweet with a slice of grilled pineapple and special chutney, and a side of fries for this reporter (who prefers the veggies over the meats.) 

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True to the compliments Williams regularly receives, the meal was delicious, inventive, created exclusively from ingredients donated to the ARW, and got a thumbs up from every foodie who tasted, from vegan to carnivore.   

If he wins the contest, Williams expressed the greatest excitement to be featured in Bon Appetit. “I love that magazine!” he said. “I get some of my best recipes from there.” The cash reward would allow him to satisfy a dream he’s had to take his entire family to New York City and sample the best food the city has to offer. A food tour of the boroughs.

While he said he’d be humbled and grateful to win, he won’t lose sight of his day-to-day. “I love this job,” Williams said. “I couldn’t see myself doing anything else, but just doing what I love.”

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