Personal Chef Bill Bigham worked for 33 years for Procter and Gamble. During his career he helped the Fortune 500 company introduce many household names such as Folgers, Duncan Hines, Jif, Crisco , and Pringles.
After retiring in January 2004, Bill decided that he wanted to do something different with his free time. He had always been interested in cooking and had become a very good amateur cook. He had thought about going to cooking school, but with a career and family, there was never the time. Now he had the time, and by chance Johnson and Wales University, a school specializing in culinary arts, had announced the opening of a new campus in Charlotte. So Bill applied and was accepted into the Inaugural Freshman Class of Johnson and Wales University. At 56 years old, Bill went back into the classroom for the first time in 33 years, with students that were less than 1/2 his age. During his time at Johnson and Wales, he had the fortunate experience of an internship at the exclusive Pinehurst Resort during the 2005 U.S. Open. After two years of intense study and training, Bill earned an Associates Degree in Culinary Arts, graduating Summa Cum Laude - with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
Since graduating Bill has put his finely tuned skills to work as a Personal Chef. From small dinner parties for 12 to large holiday parties for 60 to business Grand Openings for hundreds, Bill has cooked for them all. He strives to work with his clients to develop creative menus - menus that offer new and different experiences for partygoers. Bill also works part-time as a Cooking Instructor at the Lowe's Foods located at Providence Promenade, where his classes are filled with eager students who want to expand their own culinary knowledge. In April 2007, Bill was named "Best of the Best" Personal Chef by Charlotte Magazine. Bill has appeared on WBTV with Noon News host Maureen O'Boyle, sharing his holiday Pumpkin Pecan Pie recipe. He has been a guest on the John Hancock afternoon drive time show on NewsTalk 1110 WBT-AM or 99.3 WBT-FM. Bill recently appeared in the 2007 Taste of Charlotte Finale on Center Stage demonstrating his flambe technique.
Bill lives in South Charlotte with Maureen, his wife of 40 years.
DEGREE OF TASTE
Since Johnson & Wales University opened its Charlotte Campus in the fall of 2004, the Queen City tastes better than ever. The school’s College of Culinary Arts has an enrollment of more than a thousand students, and since many of them take over local kitchens after they graduate, diners are reaping the benefits.
“Johnson & Wales isn’t just educating students, it’s also educating the dining public,” says Bill Bigham, a personal chef who retired from a 33-year career with Procter & Gamble before pursuing a culinary degree from J&W at age 56. “With Johnson & Wales graduates and students in virtually every restaurant in the city, the school’s presence has provided nothing short of a dining revolution here.”
J&W alum Tom Condron and self-taught wizard Jim Noble are two major players on the Charlotte dining scene who have welcomed local grads. “We love to hire Johnson & Wales students and graduates because we know we’ll get the passion and skills,” says Noble, who is known for using locally sourced ingredients at his Noble’s Restaurant (a Charlotte “don’t miss”) and his Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen (featuring spit-roasted meats).
Condron is the executive chef of Harper’s Restaurant Group. The Mediterranean-leaning M5 is their newest hotspot, but other Condron creations like Mimosa Grill and Upstream continue to draw rave reviews. Condron also lures lots of J&W students and alumni looking to become the next Emeril — also a J&W grad. The famous chef has a teaching kitchen dedicated to him at the Charlotte Campus.
The Charlotte dining scene boasts several other tasty options with J&W connections. J&W grad Nick LaVecchia founded LaVecchia’s Seafood Grille. J&W alum Trey Wilson is executive chef at Customshop, and Pierre Bader hires lots of local students and graduates for his two downtown restaurants, Town and Sonoma Modern.