December 5, 1941 – October 21, 2014
There are many great moments that Clifton and I spend together in the Kitchen Like so many of his contemporaries, Clifton got an early start in the industry, training with his father, the chef/owner of the Monterey restaurant in Newark, New Jersey. His father continued to be an influence as Clifton first completed an apprenticeship, then following in his father’s footsteps, became owner and manager of a Newark coffee shop for several years.
But, it was sometime during the late 1960’s, while I was cooking in northern New Jersey at Llewellyn Farms Restaurant on Route10 that I met Windy Williams and we grew together as cooks and as friends. It was natural that he should come to work for me when I returned to Pennsylvania to become the executive chef at Gallen Hall Chalet Country Club, near Reading Pa.
Time passed; I moved on. I recommended that Windy replace me at Gallen Hall. Sadly, we lost contact for about 11 years. During that time, his career goals came into clear focus. He enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America and worked full time, graduating with honors in 1975. Clifton’s first post was at the Famed Playboy Towers Hotel in Chicago. Next, he journeyed to Kentucky, taking on the position as executive chef at Casa Grisanti Restaurant, in Louisville.
We were reunited in 1983 while attending the American Culinary Federation’s National Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, and we made a pact that night during dinner atop the Mountain at Snow Bird Ski Lodge never to lose contact again. We never did.
For the next 20 years, Clifton was the executive chef at the Executive Inn Rivermont, Owensboro, Kentucky. Later, he opened Clifton’s New Gateway Bar and Grill Restaurant in Muddy, Illinois.He then move to Las Vegas NV.
Clifton has many affiliations and has received numerous awards: including the Honorable Order of the Golden Toque, The American Academy of Chefs and Oxford’s Who’s Who-The Elite registry of Extraordinary Professionals. He is President and Charter member of Les Amis d’ Escoffier Society of Kentucky and he is a member of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels.
Clifton has been very supportive and has worked with me on many ventures. He has participated in the Taste of Heritage Dinners and was a founding trustee of the Taste of Heritage Foundation. I contacted Chef Clifton and asked him to contribute to A Taste of Heritage: New African-American Cuisine, a collection of foods and dishes that reflect both the family histories and training of the chefs that contributed to the timely book. Chef Joe Randall 10/29/2014