I am Scott Westerbeck, a personal concierge chef. Thank you for taking a moment out of your day to read a little about me.
I was born and raised in Chicago. Food was always a centerpiece in my family from the time I was born -- family dinners to brunches to family reunions (50+ people). Some of my earliest memories are of helping my mother prepare family dinners, although at the time all I did was make a mess with flour. The importance of a good home-cooked meal was impressed upon me at an early age since I saw how food brought people together.
Because I was active in sports I started to take notice of my dietary needs. My mother refused to feed me junk so I always ate healthy. I started to learn about the basics of nutrition then and how a well balanced diet is crucial to staying healthy, along with being active.
I attended Denison University for my degree (BA, history), but food was not my top priority. After graduation in 2003 I returned to Chicago and worked in corporate America for two years, and returned to home-cooked family dinners.
I did not like the corporate world so I moved to Spain. I didn’t have a job going there, didn’t have an apartment so it was a true adventure, and the best time of my life so far. I spent almost 5 years in Madrid teaching English and Business English to corporate executives. While there I developed a passion for cooking and delicious food since most foods were fresh. Whenever I went out to dinner I would try and recreate whatever I ordered back home. I began fixing food for friends and roommates who appreciated it and the size of my dinner parties grew. This was when cooking really took off for me. I started experimenting with different foods, different produce, seeing what flavor profiles work together.
When the world economy crashed I was forced to move back to the States. I then thought, why not go to culinary school? After researching various schools I selected The French Culinary Institute, now known as The International Culinary Center, and chose the Campbell, CA campus, just south of San Francisco. Prior to enrolling however, I worked for Robert Irvine’s EAT! for 6 months.
While I was in California I had the privilege to cook with some of the world’s best produce and wines, and the flavors were enticing and wonderful. Every day was a new adventure in culinary school, as every day I was preparing three to five new dishes, sometimes more. I was trained by Certified Master Chefs from all over the world and learned classic French techniques.
I graduated at the top of my class and with honors and won the Best Menu Project award. After graduation I stayed in California and was able to stage (pronounced “stahj”; it’s the culinary equivalent of interning) in various Michelin Starred restaurants, absorbing as much as I could. I was then offered a full time position in Atlanta, working for James Beard Award winning Chef Linton Hopkins, at Restaurant Eugene.
After spending a year in Atlanta I decided it was time to branch out and do something on my own. I wanted to have a more personal and interactive cooking experience with people so I moved back to Hilton Head Island to start up The Concierge Chef. After a few successful years in operation I had the pleasure of having a daughter born in the Tampa Bay area, which is where I relocated to in order to be in her life full time. I now currently operate out of Tampa.
As someone who believes in, and practices, farm-to-table I have found the freshness and flavor of local produce to be far superior to that which you can buy in the grocery store. Often times, though never stated, the produce at grocery stores has been “gas ripened” which means that when the produce was picked (up to 3 weeks ago) it was not ripe and it was stuck in the back of a trailer and had ethylene gas pumped through it (very common with tomatoes, bananas, strawberries, pears, and other fruits and vegetables post-harvest). Local produce, on the other hand, is naturally ripened, never picked early, and certainly never subjected to ethylene gas. Allowing the vegetables and fruits to ripen naturally also produces better flavors and textures. It also allows seasonality, which provides for constantly changing menu options.
As a classically trained French chef I was taught to make everything from scratch, as was done before the advent of processed foods. After practicing these techniques for years I have come to love and adhere to the “from-scratch” movement that is taking place. It not only allows for maximum flavor development but I can tailor certain recipes to your taste and avoid any allergies. I guarantee there will be no preservatives or other “ingredients” (chemicals) in any of my dishes. Making as much as possible from scratch ensures that each dish I prepare is as delicious and healthy as the ingredients that were used to make it.