We recently learned of the passing of one of The Great Courses favorite professors, Chef Bill Briwa. The Great Courses truly strives to find the greatest professors in the world, and it should come as no surprise our professors are—also—often the greatest people.
The force behind our Everyday Gourmet series, with eight informative and delightful cooking courses, Chef Briwa was a significant influencer and educator. From revealing expert tips and tricks that real-life chefs use to prepare delicious, multi-course meals to the importance of focusing on well-balanced nutrition, Chef Briwa helped thousands of lifelong learners take their skills in the kitchen to the next level.
You may know that Chef Briwa was a popular chef-instructor at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). He worked in the hospitality business as a professional chef and culinary instructor for experts and laypeople around the world for more than 30 years. He was the resident chef for The Hess Collection Winery in the Napa Valley, California; the executive chef for The Wine Spectator Restaurant at the CIA at Greystone; and an officer on the board of the St. Helena Farmers’ Market.
Over the past 15 years, Chef Briwa devoted himself full time to teaching audiences around the world about cooking, flavor dynamics, gastronomy, and food and wine pairing. As a member of the Industry Services Group at the CIA, he worked closely with a range of corporate clients to help them realize their culinary goals. Chef Briwa has been a speaker, presenter, and judge at numerous professional conferences, gatherings, and competitions in the culinary world, including the annual International Association of Culinary Professionals Conference and the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, Illinois.
His writing on food and wine has been featured in industry journals and publications, including Fine Cooking, Mise en Place, and Practical Winery &Vineyard Journal.
While his credentials were admirable, we continuously returned to Chef Briwa to lead more courses because of his undeniable charm. Whether you were standing next to him while he performed, or were following along in your kitchen watching his course on your TV, his clear passion and enthusiasm for both cooking and teaching about cooking was prominent and contagious.
Remembering Chef Briwa
“The first course with Chef Briwa was also my first course with the company. I came in as an editor and was tasked with sorting through all the footage coming in from California. I was immediate struck by how natural Chef Bill Briwa was in his teaching and delivery. He had an unrushed and fluid cadence that is very hard to do when you’re chopping up vegetables and throwing them into various pots and pans. My wife has said that I get fresh basil just so that I can chiffonade. She’s not wrong.
He also introduced me to a west coast IPA called Pliny the Elder—a beer that I measure all other IPAs against. For that, I’ll always be grateful.
I’ve had the pleasure of working on all the courses Chef Briwa produced with us. I’m saddened by his loss and my heart goes out to his family, friends, and community at the Culinary Institute of America. I’m also so happy that he’s left a legacy of learning cooking and food appreciation. His talent and skill as both a teacher and chef has changed the lives of so many. I’m proud to be one of them.”
– D. White., Sr. Manager, Post Production. The Great Courses
“Chef Briwa was one of our most beloved professors. People who watched his videos felt like he was speaking to them personally and often wrote touching letters to him. Viewers with no experience at all in the kitchen learned to cook with confidence, and professional chefs wrote in to say that they’d picked up new tips and tricks from his courses. For us at The Teaching Company, he was a joy to work with, and over the years he became both a colleague and a friend. Although we will miss him greatly, we know that through his many Great Courses he will continue to teach new generations of amateur cooks and professional chefs.”
– S. Dyer, Content Supervisor, The Great Courses
“I never worked directly with Chef Briwa but I curated hundreds of his recipes, videos, and articles for The Great Courses Daily, and through that work, I learned so, so much. Previously, I was an avid ‘convenience food’ junkie, but I gained invaluable lessons on how to create wonderful (and much healthier) ‘convenience foods’ at home. When you’ve got thirty minutes for dinner, grilled prawns beat greasy pizza any day. Thank you for opening my eyes to how easy, fast, and delicious cooking can be.”
– S. Blais, Senior Copywriter, The Great Courses
“I’ve only been star-struck twice in my life, and Chef Bill holds one of those times. It seems silly, as he was neither a mainstream celebrity or a person of great global influence, but to me, he already had made a huge impact on my life.
His on-screen demeanor easily expressed the massive amounts of knowledge built up in his noggin. As far as what a learner could wish for, there’s not much else. He made us engaged in the technique and science of cooking, not just the recipe, and motivated this non-cook to venture into the kitchen for something besides cereal and ENJOY the process of cooking. Our kitchen will be a better place because Chef Bill has “been” there.”
– J. Stoltz, Social Media Manager, The Great Courses
“ I started cooking professionally in a kitchen only a few months ago—without any professional training. I was feeling a little overwhelmed by all the stuff I didn’t know and was beginning to question if cooking was really an avenue for me without going to culinary school. Then my wife told me about Chef Briwa’s course from The Great Courses. Let me just say, I’m obsessed. I learned so many techniques that have made me feel like I’m finally getting a handle on the “right” way to do things in the kitchen. His advice even helped me buy my first professional tools to work with at home and up my game. His passing is a great loss to his family and friends, as well as his fans,, but his legacy as a truly great teacher is a wonderful one to have.”
– B. Troska, Professional Cook, Great Courses Customer