Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pete Watercott serves up one last meatloaf E-mail
Wednesday, 09 April 2008

By Mike Gervais
Register Staff


More than 20 years of service at the Bishop Senior Center wrapped up for longtime cook Pete Watercott last week as he prepared to settle into retirement.
The beloved chef served his last meal – meatloaf, his choice – at the Senior Center on Monday, March 31, where dozens of friends and longtime patrons of the kitchen were in attendance to see him off.
The farewell lunch was one filled with laughter, plenty of hugs and heaping helpings of well wishes sent Watercott’s way.

Watercott began his career with the Bishop Senior Program in 1987, after working for a time as the kitchen manager at Whiskey Creek. Before working at Whiskey Creek, Watercott got his introduction in the kitchen while working for the Conservation Corps in the Eastern Sierra
At the time, according to Watercott, he was working with a crew building a dam near the Lone Pine railroad trestle and “everyone would complain about the food.
“I volunteered in the kitchen and had the opportunity to work with the cook there and had the chance to learn from him,” Watercott said, explaining that working in the kitchen was usually considered a punishment among the other corps crew members.

Pete Watercott (right) posts with guests at his retirement luncheon last Monday. After more than 20 years as head chef at the Senior Center, Watercott is looking forward to retirement and more time to pursue his interests. Photo by Mike Gervais

At the conservation camp, Watercott cooked two meals a day for 60 people. “I learned a lot about institutionalized cooking there,” Watercott said. “We had some vegetarians in the camp, and I’d make them a little vegetable stew, or something like that” to ensure everyone had a good meal.
After his time with the Conservation Corps, Watercott and his wife, Kathryn, spent several years traveling between Minnesota and the Eastern Sierra, working and playing music.
In Bishop, Watercott found a job at Whiskey Creek, where he spent a total of 11 years in the kitchen. Six of those years he managed the other cooks before a friend and manager of the Inyo-Mono Senior Program, Charlie Broten, recommended he apply for a position with the newly constructed Senior Center kitchen in Bishop.
That was in 1987.
“Charlie Broten, the director of the senior program, said, ‘Pete, you need to go down there and apply for that job and be our senior cook,’” said Watercott.
The senior program interviewed 30 people for the newly opened position. “I didn’t know anyone on the interview panel, and I was hired. I was the first cook in the brand-new kitchen,” Watercott said.
At that time the kitchen had a staff of three, including Watercott. Those individuals spent some time working and observing at the senior kitchen in Lone Pine to learn the ropes of cooking at a senior kitchen.
“The Senior Center was a real different type of job than Whiskey,” Watercott said. Not only was he making many friends through the program, but he was able to focus more on his music career thanks to the regular hours the job provided.
In addition to focusing on his musical career, Watercott was able to become a member of the Northern Inyo Hospital Board of Directors and participate on the board for the Inyo Council for the Arts, as well as continue cooking and provide a community service.
“It was one of the best experiences,” Watercott said.
From 1991-96 Watercott owned and operated the Airport Cafe in Bishop. During that time he again focused more on business than music, all the while continuing as the head chef at the Senior Center.
He decided to sell the restaurant in 1996 and again devote more time to music.
Watercott continued working at the Senior Center and playing music until last week, when he officially retired.
“I plan to continue with the music and now I have a lot more freedom to play,” said Watercott. “I’ve got a lot of different interests; wood working, gardening – I’m a builder, so I think I’ll be able to stay busy.
As for his involvement with the community, Watercott plans to continue his work on the Northern Inyo Hospital Board of Directors and with the Inyo Council for the Arts.
As for the Senior Center, “I’ll still be involved, but I don’t know what will come up next,” he said.
“I could see doing some volunteer work and fundraising for the Senior Center,” he added, noting that the state’s financial straits have trickled down to the program.
“I think this is a really good program, and I hope that when people make decisions they remember that the program reaches out to 400 people every day that are home bound, and the difference this makes in their lives,” said Watercott.

LIVE! Pokonobe Dinner Concert 6/22/08

Friday, June 20, 2008

Wedding Party Music!

Wounded Warriors/ Our Young Heros

Pete & Neil,
Your performance far surpassed my expectations! You were PHENOMENAL! The guys, (Wounded Warriors), & other guests sure enjoyed having you with us! Looking forward to doing it again!

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