Debra Whiting, chef and owner of Red Newt Bistro in Hector, N.Y., one of the Finger Lakes' most popular restaurants, was killed last night when the car she and her husband were driving in was involved in an accident. The couple was returning home to the Finger Lakes after working in Vermont.
Whiting's husband, Dave, winemaker at Red Newt Cellars, was also injured in the crash. He is currently listed in stable condition at Syracuse Upstate University Hospital. No further details are available at this time.
Whiting was a strong believer in locally sourced ingredients and her restaurant was beloved for its casual atmosphere, professional service and constantly changing menu that featured the best of upstate New York agriculture. Both Whitings were considered ambassadors for the region's budding wine industry and Red Newt Bistro always offered a comprehensive wine list of Finger Lakes wines from both their own and many of their colleagues' wineries. The couple wrote a guest blog for Wine Spectator in autumn 2008.
"She was a wonderful human being who will be sorely missed," said Bob Madill, owner of Sheldrake Point Winery. "The Whitings started their business around the same time I started this and wine and food really brought us together over the years. There are few people as passionate and generous as Deb and this is a devastating loss for such a small region as ours."
The winery is currently open for business but the bistro is closed until further notice. The couple has two sons, Ryan and Brenton.
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