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Paesano head chef David Whitney’s love for food started at a very early age.
Spending much of his youth on his grandfather’s farm in Escanaba, the WCC culinary arts graduate grew up honing his craft.
“He had a mink ranch and raspberry farm; we also planted things like potatoes and corn. So I grew up picking berries and eating meals made from the fresh produce grown in my own backyard,” said Whitney. “My grandfather made a living selling his produce to people for years and years. That’s one of the reasons I try to showcase what is available locally and in the state when it’s in season.”
Though he had many valuable experiences working in restaurants with accomplished chefs before moving to the area in the late 1990s, Whitney’s formal training began at WCC.
In the WCC Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program, students practice in instructional kitchens and are taught by chefs who are masters of their trade. They also run a full-service restaurant and a dessert shop on campus.
“My teachers at WCC were awesome,” Whitney said. “Meeting the local chefs who came in to help and learning about the food of Ann Arbor were all great experiences. I learned a lot from all of my teachers as well as the other students.”
The program’s professional network of local restaurateurs is invaluable, he adds.
“If someone had an opening in the kitchen they would come to Washtenaw to fill it,” Whitney said. “The same is true for me. If someone comes here looking for a job and they’re going to WCC, I’ll try them out because I know it’s a good program.”