As esports continues to grow, there is an ever-developing relationship between the gaming industry and the food industry. As someone who has cooked professionally for many years, this excites me. I’ve set out to find the best chefs in esports, and discuss their opinions about the connecting worlds of food and esports.
This time I had the opportunity to chat with Bill “ChefBilly” Green, an award-winning Executive Chef and caster for Overwatch Contenders Trials.
To start off, why don’t you share your background in both cooking and esports?
Cooking has been a part of my life ever since I was little. My mother and grandmother were both chefs, one as a baker (grandma) and one as a pâtissier. I grew up cooking and attended Le Cordon Bleu after I got out of the Navy, graduating with honors there. I lived in France, studying there for about 18 months. I am now an Executive Chef.
My background in esports: Overwatch actually got me into it. I had followed the scene a little bit since I’m kind of a nerd. I played it on the Xbox — most of my gaming has been console games like Mass Effect, Madden, and FIFA. Though I didn’t enjoy it at first when I received it as a gift, as I played it more I got hooked. I found a community on Facebook that played Xbox Overwatch and got more involved from there. I joined an organization called the Console Gaming League that’s the largest console gaming network in esports.
What made you want to get into cooking? Did people in your house cook?
I actually wanted to be a music teacher, but my parents and I did not see eye-to-eye on that. I couldn’t pay for college myself, so I signed up for the Navy. When I got out of there I had the money to pay for music school, but at that point didn’t want to waste the time. I decided to do something I knew I was good at — and get a degree in it. I started at South Seattle Community College where they had a competition program: competing for the American Culinary Federation’s prizes (I’m very competitive).
It was just in the genes — I wanted to carry on the tradition. I could carry myself with a knife by the time I was 10 years old. I learned how to bake and work off the pastry formulas by the time I was twelve. I worked in my mom’s restaurant around the age of 13. It’s been a part of my life since as long as I can remember, it’s been all about the food.
What would you say your main “end goal” in both esports and food? How do you wanna contribute to these industries?
Cooking, I’m getting up there in years. At one time I really wanted to compete for the Bocuse d’Or (the Olympic Games of gastronomy), and represent the United States. I also wanted to earn my Certification as a Master Chef. I can still do those, but for the time being my focus is on esports.
My esports goal: I want to be the best. I want to be the best possible caster I can be. I think I bring a unique view to the esports world with my age (forty-three), and with my ability to bring my cooking into it. I always talk about cooking up sauce or something spicy! I do put some culinary puns in there.
Esports just seems to have grabbed me and I didn’t think I was gonna be good at it when I first started casting, and I’m now almost on Contenders level! My end goal in esports is to cast for the Overwatch League and to cast for other major esports events as well (Rocket League, FIFA, etc.)
I definitely want to bring my cooking chops to the esports scene. I’m collaborating with a caster and cooking friend of mine to cook recipes from the Overwatch Cookbook on stream. What I want to bring to the esports community: I’m an eternal optimist. I always try to find the good in every situation. I fight for what is right, and fight for people that I think have been wronged. I want to make sure that I’m a bright spot that the community can depend upon.
It’s really awesome that you bring cooking puns into your casting that adds a lot of personality! That’s actually something I wanted to expound upon more. From my experience working in the culinary industry, a kitchen is usually made up of a lot of charismatic people. Do you think your time working in kitchens has helped you as a caster in other ways?
Yes, a kitchen has its own cast of absolute characters. Some are drug-riddled, some have massive social anxiety disorders, and some are just nuts. I guess I fall into the humorous category with a little social anxiety thrown in.
I think that working in a kitchen allowed me to become the person I am today. I always have fun in the kitchen. I say "meow" a lot. Just learning the lingo of the kitchen, whatever it is definitely has shaped me as a person. Second, it’s given me the courage and strength to be a caster today. I think that it absolutely has helped me come out of my shell.
That’s actually something else I’ve noticed. There are very interesting personalities in a kitchen as well as in the industry-they’re weird (in a good way). Do you see parallels in the type of personalities seen in both spaces?
Yeah, *laughs* the personalities. You have your straight shooters in the kitchen as well — very professional types. I was professional but also very humorous and light-hearted. I see that in the casting industry as well: hyper professionals and goofballs. I’m a happy mixture of both. It’s a constant work-in-progress. I do see the parallels in those spaces.
In the few (and I promise you, only) times I’ve casted games, I’ve succumbed to tough nerves. Obviously running a kitchen during the dinner rush can be similarly nerve-wracking. You think your time working as an executive chef has helped prepare you at all?
Tough nerves indeed. Especially the higher up that you get when you start getting these ex-Overwatch League player s— Syca, LhCloudy, Boombox — I’ve had the opportunity to cast their games and interview these players. People I had seen dominate!
Yes, being an Executive Chef requires nerves of steel. For things like Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, or Christmas it’s incredibly hectic. You have to allow yourself to fail. In a moment when you’re in the weeds and the tickets keep churning, you can have a panic moment.
The same thing happens in casting. You have to be able to rely on your co-caster and allow them to jump in if you go off the rails. It’s just like working with a sous chef. I’m the Executive Chef of the broadcast, he’s the sous chef. I think being an Executive Chef has allowed me to stand in high-pressure moments and deliver some high-quality content.
Any favorite recipes?
Something I’ve won a few local awards for is my Maple Salmon with Creamy Curry Dill Sauce!
4 6oz Salmon fillets, skin on
2c Maple Syrup
1c brown sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 TBSP Salt
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Cracked black pepper
1 pint Heavy cream
4 TBSP Madras Curry Powder
1/2c chopped dill
S+P to taste
Mix ingredients for marinade and pour into a shallow pan. Place salmon in marinade skin side up. Marinade in refrigerator a minimum of 6 hours.
When you're ready to cook, let your salmon come up to room temp and allow the marinade to drain off (approx 20 minutes). Place a little neutral oil in a non-stick pan on medium-high heat. Lay the salmon in pan skin side up and sear for 3 minutes and flip. Make sure you get your skin nice and crispy! When finished, remove to a wire rack to stop the cooking.
For the sauce, place all ingredients except for the S+P in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and reduce until the cream coats the back of a spoon and will hold a line when a finger is passed thru (Nappé). When sauce is thickened, remove from heat and season to your liking.
Sounds delicious! Cooking is a skill and an activity I think everyone should pick up, especially young gamers. What does it mean to you personally?
The ability to cook for oneself is a skill that will follow you for the entirety of your life.
Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?
Cooking and esports do mix. A lot of times gamers do not take care of themselves when it comes to grinding out comp, and the ability to cook a quick and healthy meal can absolutely change your outlook and mental on the daily!
Follow me on Twitter @billydamoose to see examples of my cooking and I'll be starting a cooking Twitch stream here in the near future!
I write. I rap. I run. That’s pretty much it.