"This is the place to be if you're looking for big stars," says Marcus McWilliams, a soft-spoken 32-year-old who is the Hilton Hotel's kitchen manager and a chef says.
Seated at Fitzgerald's Bar inside the Hilton, McWilliams describes meeting celebrities such as Jamie Foxx, Run DMC and Oprah Winfrey in the hotel.
In the 13 years that McWilliams has purchased food for the Hilton and assisted in hosting big events such as the Hilton's biannual Cigars Under the Stars, he has developed a taste for success.
McWilliams grew up in Jackson, attending Provine High School and then Hinds Community College for one year before deciding to pursue his musical aspirations in the world beyond Jackson.
It was then that McWilliams began to venture into the world of fine dining. After a visit to his sister in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., McWilliams was amazed by the "flashy things in the dining room" of the restaurants on the strip.
When he returned to Jackson and landed the position of kitchen manager of the restaurants in the Hilton, he attempted to incorporate that East Coast flare into his cooking, but found that "nothing compares to the Southern."
Still, McWilliams doesn't confine himself to one kind of cuisine. Instead, he is willing to try anything.
McWilliams' exposure to the talent that has come through the doors of the Hilton has reinvigorated his desire to make it in the music industry.
Recently, McWilliams began his own studio called Bold City Records. The label is an attempt to create his own soul tracks and help other local artists produce their records.
For McWilliams, finally getting his record label off the ground is the manifestation of his early dreams, which he had previously pushed to the back burner while he built his career in fine cuisine.
"What I'm looking forward to in the future is some type of big deal in the industry," McWilliams says. But he adds, "Right now, I really love what I do, and I really like when people request me to do flambeau or something special. That's what I really like."
McWilliams has one other job that might as well be two or three: with his wife, he is currently raising four daughters, who range in age from 3 to 10.
"That's a full-time job," he says, smiling broadly.