Chef Tom Whitaker: The Colony Palm Beach

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Bio:

Tom Whitaker is Executive Chef at The Colony Palm Beach Hotel.

(Tomato Gazpacho, Whipped Ricotta, Pepquino, Shiso and Jalapeño(

What do I do best?

Using my attention to detail, artistic eye as well as my extensive product knowledge, I have the ability to make food not only delicious and unique but visually appealing as well. As my former Chef Bedford would always say, “ you eat with your eyes first”

What makes me the best version of myself?

I stay composed and collected in times of stress and understand the workings of my team to help adapt and guide. I listen well to others and work with everyone to get the best out of any situation.

What are my aspirations?

To be the best version of myself and to provide all I can as a husband and father.

In respect to cuisine, my desire is to achieve greatness and to earn the respect of my peers while creating a dining experience for our guests that will be remembered.

My Biggest Success?

My life is my success, with my wife Samantha and my two amazing boys, Ayden & Finley. I feel my success is from the steps and decisions that have led me to the good fortune of having this.  

In my culinary career, it was definitely the hard work and dedication while being a part of Chef Bedfords senior team at the Fearrington House Restaurant in Pittsboro North Carolina. In that time, I helped to achieve the Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef award and our first Forbes 5th star award as well as consistently retaining our 5 Diamonds each year.

My Most Challenging Moment?

My dad passed away unexpectantly when I was 21 years old. At the time I was a musician in a band that had just broken up so I was at a crossroads in my life unsure of what I was going to do next. As I learned to cope with my grief, I recalled how my Dad was disappointed in me for not pursuing my dream of being a Chef as I had trained to in school. My future became clear and I made the decision to step back into a world I had abandoned years ago. There began my pursuit to be a Chef. My life changed in many ways with unsociable hours and limited time with friends and family. A few years after he had passed I decided to move to the U.S using my inheritance to get here. Now I am in Palm Beach, Executive Chef at The Colony Hotel, married to my beautiful wife and a father to two amazing boys. My father’s death reshaped my entire future

My Motto?

“A problem shared is a problem halved”

My mother used to say this to me as a child and it would help immensely. As adults we are no different in the need for teamwork or direction to solve things and as Chefs we are known to be great problem solvers.  I use it to tell my team that any problem they are struggling to solve that they need to communicate with their team leaders to help alleviate the pressure they are feeling and to find the best way on how to move forward.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

My Family back home across the pond and my family here are my driving force and role models

Professionally, these guys I owe my life/career to

Colin Bedford, Exec Chef of the Fearrington House, Pittsboro, NC. I worked under his guidance and mentorship for 10 years, learning from him more about food and life then most could imagine!

Jerome Cogne. Former Exec Chef back in England. He stood with me day in day out correcting, guiding and teaching from the basics all the way to the complex. He became a father figure and mentor in a time of need and self-discovery

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

Hexham my home town near Hadrians Wall and Newcastle upon Tyne. The people are what makes the north of England great, Newcastle and the surrounding areas have a great reputation for being some of the friendliest around.

Charleston SC. My favorite city in the US, which is also the place I was married. The history, the cuisine and the culture keep bringing me back for more.

Machu Pichu, Peru. I hiked the Inca trail with my brother Andrew. It was hands down the best travel experience of my life. From seeing the unbelievable stone work of Saksaywaman, the jungle exploration along the Tambopata river, the breathtaking views of Machu Pichu, to the overnight stay on an island on Lake Titicaca. It was an experience like no other.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

25 Year Aged Pedro Jiminez Vinegar – the best seasoning vinegar I have ever worked with.

Lemon Mosto Oil – Such a versatile Oil especially great with Seafood and salads

Cook Books – They are the greatest source of inspiration

Kikiuichi knives – I haven’t found a knife the fits me better, the handle being western and the blade eastern

My Current Passions?

Spending time with my family, gardening and enjoying food

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