This year's Savannah Food & Wine Festival will again be filled with celebrity guests from the culinary world, including one of the top voices in the Southern food scene.

Celebrity chef and cookbook author Virginia Willis will host the festival’s Riverboat Luncheon Cruise on Nov. 9. This interactive cooking demonstration will take place on board Savannah Riverboat Cruises’ Savannah River Queen as the boat cruises down the Savannah River. The cruise, “Secrets of the Southern Table,” is aptly named after Willis’ new cookbook, which debuts this fall. 

Willis is a Southern cooking expert, award-winning author and television personality who travels throughout the south on a mission to document diversity and delve into the rich narrative shaping modern Southern food culture. Willis is a James Beard Award winner for her cookbook "Lighten Up, Y’all," and has had several articles appear in national outlets such as CNN, All Recipes and Country Living. The Chicago Tribune has named her one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know.” Willis is also receiving her own TV series. "Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lovers Tour of the Global South" is in development for PBS.

Each “Secrets of the Southern Table” Riverboat Luncheon Cruise ticket purchased will be accompanied by a signed copy of her new cookbook. A gourmet lunch buffet will be available featuring one of Willis’ most popular recipes. The gourmet buffet will also include traditional Southern favorites and a souvenir glass with unlimited tastings of wine, beer and spirits from a variety of tasting stations located on several decks of the ship. 

Willis will be available for a meet and greet and book signings after her cooking demonstration aboard the cruise. Ship boarding for the Nov. 9 event begins at noon at the River Street dock at Rousakis Plaza, with the cruise set for 1-2:30 p.m. Tickets are $75 through Aug. 31 and $85 after that date at savannahfoodandwinefest.com.