A Royal Life In Raleigh: Chef Walter
A celebrated chef creates more than just great food. He encourages a family atmosphere and a strong community.
At Home in the Barn
The feeling is mutual. For instance, listen to his regard for "Miss Betty," whom he calls a mentor. "She has made my 11-year-tenure here wonderful," says Walter. "She has directed me through elegant cocktail parties and crazy football Saturday nights. This is something you don't learn in school; you don't get it from a book. You get it from working with a mentor. Regardless of how old we get, we can still learn from someone," he says.
"We're a huge restaurant, but it still has that ma-and-pa feel," Walter says. "It's important to me, because a lot of things are just so corporate and impersonal. When you work at a place where the owner is there working beside you, that helps you do your job better, manage your people better, and take care of your customers."
He credits owner Van Eure, who inherited the Angus Barn from her parents, with maintaining the atmosphere that has kept several employees at the restaurant for a quarter century and more. "I'm the rookie," Walter says.
An Award-Winning Chef
In 1997 the Restaurant Guild International declared Walter the Five Star Chef of the Year, making him the first African American to earn that distinction. He's been one of James Beard's Rising Stars, one of the Top Five Chefs in the Southeast, the Top Black Chef in America, and the Best Chef in the Triangle.