Whatley continues as top chef at Ahwahnee; recently participated in First Lady’s “Chefs Move to Schools” program
BUFFALO, N.Y. (August 26, 2010) – Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts announced today that Percy Whatley, executive chef of its operation at The Ahwahnee in Yosemite National Park, has been promoted to the newly created position of Regional Corporate Chef for Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts.
Whatley will continue as executive chef at The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park’s four-star, National Historic Landmark hotel. He will also have responsibility for overseeing the culinary teams of Yosemite Lodge, Curry Village and Wawona Hotel in Yosemite; Tenaya Lodge, a Delaware North-owned hotel outside Yosemite; Sequioia National Park; and The Queen Mary. He will work closely with them to coordinate the recruitment, practicals and on-boarding of new executive chefs and sous chefs. He also will oversee intern recruitment, large culinary functions and the certification and continuing education of hourly and salaried culinary staff in his region.
Whatley joined Delaware North in 1993 when Delaware North began operating in Yosemite National Park. He has held a number of positions in the company’s largest operation, including cook at the historic Curry Village, executive chef of Wawona Hotel and executive chef of the famed Ahwahnee hotel, his most recent position.
In January 1996, he enrolled at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. He was graduated with honors the following year and returned to Yosemite. In the summer of 1999, Whatley became the executive chef at the Wawona Hotel in the southernmost section of Yosemite. In the spring of 2002, Whatley assumed responsibility for all aspects of food production, dining room service and catering at the Wawona Hotel, including elaborate weddings, banquets and lawn barbecues. His wine and food paring expertise became significantly enhanced when he was also assigned a major role in the selection of the hotel’s wines.
Whatley returned to The Ahwahnee for a third term in the fall of 2003 as the interim food and beverage manager. He soon accepted the position of executive sous chef and began the use of organic and sustainable ingredients, allowing him to become a major contributor to Delaware North’s environmental initiatives. Whatley was named to the position of executive chef in 2005.
Under the guidance of Delaware North Corporate Chef Roland Henin CMC, Whatley earned dual certification by passing the distinguished ProChef III exam, proctored by the Culinary Institute of America, earning him the prestigious certified executive chef and certified ProChef III designations. He is currently preparing for the rigorous certified master chef exam, was a two-time finalist for the Bocuse d’Or international competition and has been a guest chef at the James Beard House on several occasions.
Whatley, and five other Delaware North chefs, also recently participated in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to School program, part of the White House’s Let’s Move! campaign. The goal of Let’s Move! is to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation. The program, to be administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will strive to pair chefs with interested schools in their communities, so together they can create healthy meals that meet the schools’ dietary guidelines and budgets while teaching young people about nutrition and making balanced and healthy choices.