Davis & Elkins College alumna Elizabeth “Libby” Nolle ’03 spends most of her time doing what she loves – cooking. Now, that passion has earned her the honor of Best Chef as selected by readers of WV Living magazine.
As executive chef at Whistle Punk Grill & Taphouse in Richwood, Nolle is driven by her philosophy to use the best, most fresh ingredients she can acquire to create unique dishes.
“It’s cool to be recognized,” Nolle said. “I work hard at it and it’s nice that people appreciate it. Mostly, I’m really thankful I get to make a living doing what I love.”
Apparently, customers are equally impressed with the restaurant and its menu. Whistle Punk Grill & Taphouse, owned by Lance Raffo, garnered several other awards in the 2020 Best of West Virginia contest.
Nolle says her interest in cooking was piqued at D&E when she studied hospitality management and made her first pot of potato soup.
“That was our first assignment,” Nolle explained. “Mine was a little better than the others’ and that made me think I might be good at this.”
She also credits the College’s small class sizes and Executive Chef Melanie Campbell for helping her achieve her goals.
“Chef Mel served as a mentor and has been a huge impact on my career,” Nolle said. “My time at D&E was awesome. Being in a small school really helps people live up to their full potential. It’s a learning environment that cultivates more growth.”
Nolle’s career has taken her from West Virginia to Maine and back to the Mountain State where she spent 10 years at Snowshoe Mountain Resort and a year in Mt. Nebo. Whistle Punk Grill & Taphouse has been her work base since the restaurant opened in 2018.