Whitley Bettis is making a splash in the local restaurant scene. And that cheesecake she makes…

Updated: Apr 7


By SARA VANDEN BERGE


Whitley Bettis’ cheesecake will make you cry.


The 24-year-old self-professed “food lover” says she doesn’t consider herself a “chef."


“That title is earned and given to you,” Whitley told Beneath the Surface News.


But anyone who has had the pleasure of enjoying her food might disagree.

My family had her famous peanut butter cheesecake when we celebrated our oldest son’s birthday at Newton’s Cellar in November.


It was so amazing that I ordered a raspberry one for Christmas Eve, and believe me when I say that it was pure heaven.


Fun fact: Whitley loves to bake all the sugary goodness, but eating sweets is not her thing.


Say what?!

LEARNING TO COOK


Whitley grew up in Stephenville and De Leon and graduated in 2014 from De Leon High School.


“I’ve been cooking for as long as I can remember,” she said. “Being the oldest sibling in a nonstop family, you learn to help mom out and that was a chore I didn’t mind.”


Whitley spent a lot of time in the kitchen and would pour over cookbooks for new recipes. She learned to master spaghetti and made it often for her siblings.


It was during her sophomore year of high school when Whitley began to consider turning her love of cooking into a career.


So soon after graduating, she packed her bags and moved to Hyde Park, NY to attend The Culinary Institute of America.


She graduated in December 2016, and late last year, scored the job of her dreams.

BECOMING CHEF NEWTON’S PROTÉGÉ


In November 2020, Whitley scored a job with a chef she never imagined getting the chance to work with.


When Cowboy Chef Mike Newton opened Newton’s Cellar in downtown Stephenville late last year, he hired Whitley.


It was a dream come true.


“Working with Chef Newton is the biggest blessing that life has given to me,” she said. “It’s so wonderful to have someone to bounce ideas off and to collaborate on new dishes with. In our industry, connections are very important and he has pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and build relationships with our clients.”

Today, Whitley serves as chef de cuisine, a position that puts her in direct collaboration with Executive Chef Newton.


When asked to describe what she does at Newton’s Cellar, Whitley deadpanned “everything.”


“I can be wherever I need to be, whether it’s in the kitchen or dining room to ensure that we are succeeding; I make sure that all the ends are always in place,” she said. “One of my most important responsibilities is to make sure all the food is ordered for the restaurant.”


But it’s those busy nights at the restaurant – when there’s wall-to-wall people gathered for a delicious meal – that Whitley really shines.


“A busy night at Newton’s means running around like a chicken with your head cut,” she joked. “It’s wild, but those are the nights we live for and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”


I asked Whitley about what’s next for her career and she told me that for now, she is exactly where she wants to be.


“I’m still growing and I’m unbelievably happy where I am,” she said. “I won’t be going anywhere any time soon.”


And that’s good news for the rest of us.

NANA’S MASHED POTATOES


I always wonder what chefs like to eat outside of their own cooking.


Do they enjoy a greasy hamburger from a favorite fast-food spot or do they ever pop in a Digiorno after a late night at work?


So I asked.


“Hands down a good salad piled with all of the toppings, but I would never pass up my Nana’s mashed potatoes,” she said.


And you shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to dine at Newton’s Cellar where you will always find a friendly face and a meal that will blow you away.