Chef Whitney Thomas: 5Church Restaurant

Last Updated: February 5, 2021//Categories: Featured Chefs//

Chef Whitney is the Executive Chef of the prestigious 5Church Restaurant, located in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina.  5Church has just celebrated 7 years of success, with a locally sourced Modern American cuisine and an eclectic dining experience.

(1) Where were you born/raised?

Reidsville, NC

(2) How long have you been a chef?

13 years

(3) How did you get into cooking?

I started cooking family meals with my grandmother at age 3.

(4) Who most influenced you?

My grandmother Edna Galloway, and Chef John Bobby.

(5) What has been your education and career path?

I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for 3 years for Exercise Sports Science and African American Studies.  At the end of my third year, I had a soul searching moment and I couldn’t see myself being anywhere but in a kitchen as a chef.  I left at the end of my junior year, to pursue a career in the culinary field.  I started washing dishes and delivering pizzas until I started prepping and making pizzas and it went from there.

(6) What is your restaurant like?

5Church is a “New American” restaurant, we have the freedom to play with numerous cuisines.  We work with many farms and like to keep it as local and sustainable as possible.

(7) What do you like most about your job?

I like the freedom we have to play with our food. I like the fluidity of the menu.

(8) What’s the most challenging part of your job?

The hardest part is the long hours.  Most shifts are 12 hours some can be as long as 16-18.

(9) What does it take to become a great chef?

It takes hard work, thick skin, a pain tolerance (burns and cuts), perseverance to make it through the busy nights and long shifts, a willingness to constantly learn and improve, and a strong palate.  Also it takes always pushing yourself towards the next level.

(10) What’s your favorite meal?

My favorite meal is anything Mexican.

(11) What do you do in your free time?

Read cook books, research new food trends, and spend time with my family.  Family and food are the most important things to me.

(12) What has been your experience with Jurgielewicz Duck?

I’ve used Jurgielewicz ducks for years throughout my career and I have never been disappointed.  The quality and consistency is always there from the whole birds, breast, legs, wings, and eggs.

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