HECTOR, NEW YORK - July 1, 2011 - Debra Whiting, Executive Chef & Co-Owner of Red Newt Cellars Winery & Bistro, died in a car accident last night, at the age of 52, while returning home to the Finger Lakes with her husband after a visit to friends and family in Northern Vermont. David Whiting, husband and winemaker at Red Newt Cellars, was also injured in the crash. He is currently listed in stable condition at Syracuse UpstateUniversity Hospital.
Debra was truly a passionate and inspirational culinary ambassador to theFinger Lakes region. As a member on the executive board of the Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty, she took great pride in utilizing locally sourced ingredients for her ever-changing menu and building relationships with the local farmers and producers of the region. Unhampered by formal culinary training, her approach was to seek an expressive interpretation to every culinary challenge. The result was a culinary palate whose colors express Debra's devotion to the bounty and seasons of the Finger Lakes.
A native of Georgia, Debra moved to Connecticut at an early age and spent many years growing up in Lake Placid. Debra spent the first 15 years of her professional career in immunology research, having earned an M.S. in Microbiology. She was an avid runner, competing in two New York City marathons in 1988 and 1989. Debra and her husband also took great pleasure in ballroom dancing. When the Red Newt first opened Debra and David Whiting would instruct ballroom dance classes to the community. She is survived by husband David and two sons Ryan (age 27) and Brenton (age 16).
The Winery will remain open today with the Bistro re-opening tomorrow as the staff at Red Newt Cellars awaits the family's wishes. Services will be scheduled, in the meantime, the Pastors at Hector Presbyterian Church have graciously opened their doors to family and friends tomorrow from 10:00 a.m.-2:00p.m.
The Whiting and Red Newt family extends their deepest gratitude to those who have offered their support and condolences during this tragic time. The tremendous amount of love and strength goes beyond words.
Red Newt Cellars is located on the east side of Seneca Lake in the hamlet of Hector in the Finger Lakes region of New York. In addition to producing wines from east Seneca Lake vineyards, Red Newt Cellars offers innovative Finger Lakes cuisine in the Bistro by utilizing locally sourced ingredients and promoting culinary relationships between farms and restaurants. Red Newt Cellars will remain a representation of the achievements of David and Debra's longtime goal to combine their efforts and expertise in the exploration of producing, and also in creating a synergy between, regional wine and cuisine.
For more information, contact regarding bereavement:
Reverends Nancy & James Yao
Hector Presbyterian Church
5511 State Route 414
Hector, NY 14841-096
We at Red Newt Cellars and Bistro submit this for immediate release. Debra Whiting was a Saint. She was a mother to more than just her children and a sister to everyone she met.
She was one of the warmest and kindest people to ever come into my life. I cannot thank her enough for what she has given me in this too short of time I've spent with her. I hope that the local media will air this story to tell of the angel who heaven reclaimed. She will forever be loved and missed.
Additional images can be found here: http://picasaweb.google.com/rednewtcellars/RedNewtCellarsWebAlbum
or the Red Newt Winery and Red Newt Bistro pages will also have photos.