Will Murdoch remembers perusing his mom’s spice cabinet as a 4 year old.

“Just taste it,” she would tell him.

He thought the spices tasted bitter.

Now, with a graduation from culinary school in his near future and a personal history working with food, the 40-year-old cook knows better: Spices need food.

Cooking fills Will’s life.

He works full time as a lead line cook at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort and part time as the head baker at a Bruegger’s Bagels.

Somewhere in there, he squeezed in culinary school and a family life.

As a sort of graduation present, Will’s wife, Liz Murdoch, connected him with the Primavera Foundation’s Primavera Cooks! Summer Dinner Series. On Wednesday, he’ll become an “apprentice chef” and work with a team of other volunteers to whip up a high-end dinner at Pastiche. The dinner benefits the Primavera Foundation, and it’s the perfect place for Will to donate the talent that has marinated for years.

At 12, he worked as a dishwasher at his family’s restaurant in Colorado, moving through the ranks of the kitchen. Then, after spending years in other industries such as construction, Will remembered that cooking kept him happy. To culinary school he went.

He cooks all day at work, but still hangs in the kitchen at home. It’s a small kitchen, but the family likes to watch. They bond over food, Liz says. Mia, 11, loves to bake, and Carlos, 18, loves to eat.

In his home, with a glass of wine in hand and the air-conditioner pumping—a nice contrast to the oven-temperatures of restaurant kitchens— Will can relax and create.

“I just love to go to the grocery store and just walk around the produce section and buy things,” he says. “It might be lettuce and mushrooms are on sale this week, so I buy things there, then go to the meat department to see what I can come up with.”

The successful experiments often make it onto the resort’s menu.

Contact reporter Johanna Willett at jwillett@azstarnet.com or 573-4357.

Writing about Tucson's heart and soul — its people, its kindness, its faith — for #ThisIsTucson.