July 13, 1975 — May 15, 2019
GLENS FALLS — Shawn Scott Whalen, father of young Brayton “Braety” Whalen, and chef-owner of the beloved Bistro Tallulah restaurant of Glens Falls, left the world unexpectedly on May 15, 2019. He joins, in a peaceful, eternal life, his father, Donnie, his grandparents, and his uncle, Joe.
Shawn was a native New Yorker, born in Glens Falls on July 13, 1975 to Don and Janet Johnson Whalen; raised in Fort Ann, graduating from Fort Ann High School and various BOCES programs, which focused on his many talents – auto repair, construction — Shawn could put anything together and equally well pull it apart! – and then culinary arts (a love instilled from his mom…a terrific cook) — Shawn carried his kitchen knives in a metal tool box! His love of food creation flourished as he pursued his education at Adirondack Community College and worked in the industry from the bottom up at local favorites …the Log Jam, Bayberry Corners and the Queensbury Hotel. All of these opportunities moved Shawn to transfer to the nationally recognized Johnson and Wales University, Providence, Rhode Island, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1999. His love of Southern cuisine drew him to New Orleans for his first internship, and then subsequently to be employed as sous chef in some of NOLA’s finest. He once commented that he had made every possible combination of quiche and all sold out!
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina raged through New Orleans and through Shawn and Courtney’s newly purchased and renovated home. The couple returned north, but only for a short time; both were among the first to be summoned back by their respective employers. Shawn, however, had a plan and a destination.
Following the birth of their son, Brayton, Jan. 22, 2007, the little family packed their belongings and headed home. As family pitched in, Shawn’s plan began to unfold, closing on a three-story historic building at 26 Ridge St. in downtown Glens Falls in August 2007. Ever the building contractor and worker bee (as one!), walls came down, dust was everywhere, “Harold’s Country Kitchen” shingles were ripped out. What Shawn couldn’t figure out, uncle Jimmy would. Soon there were fresh paint, jazz prints on display, tables and chairs in place, commercial stove and ‘fridge all in working order. Bistro Tallulah opened its doors on Oct. 3, 2007! The rest is history! Dining in downtown was fully changed…there was a vibe that was not to be mistaken. Reservations were almost always necessary; recognition came from near and far! And the food, from appetizer to a final dessert, all of his own creation, has never been or ever will be replicated!
His passion for food was unmistakable, but there was also the side of Shawn that reveled in the outdoors. ATVs in Washington County, snowmobiling in Montana, boating on Lake George, motorcycles, big Ford trucks…anything that moved fast….really fast! He shared these times with family and his buddies...one in particular, his forever friend from childhood, Shawn Graham.
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There would only be one thing that would surpass all that Shawn had come to be identified with and that was being Dad to his son, Brayton Shawn Whalen. Dad and his boy together powering on ATVs through woodlands, farmlands, over hills and up to mountain tops! The more mud the better! The two sitting side-by-side decked out in New Orleans Saints jerseys…one big, one small…remote in hand, as they tuned into Sunday night football or that great 2010 Super Bowl win! And then there were quieter times, passing the football around City Park or just tossing a ball to Braety’s dog, Gumbo. However, their relationship was not more simply and nor beautifully displayed as Shawn the Chef would leave his restaurant, walk past diners, with a quick wave and sprint the steps to the 3rd floor to be, once again, Shawn the Dad as he tucked his young son into bed for the night.
Shawn was predeceased by his father, Donnie (1988); his grandparents of the Whalen-Caverly-Johnson families; and his uncle, Joe Vogel.
Shawn leaves behind his beloved son, Braety; Braety’s mom, Courtney Locke-Whalen; mom, Janet Johnson Whalen; sister, Heather Whalen Sanders; brother-in-law, Jerry Sanders; niece, Shaniah Sanders; nephew, Lucas Sanders; aunts and uncles, Judy and Jimmy Strohmeyer, Pam Vogel, Lisa Plocharczyk, Pat Whalen and Terry Whalen, and families; Braety’s grandparents, Keith and Sue Locke; close cousins, Jennifer, Jason, Corrine, Nate, Trisha, Cherie, Beth and Dan; a special staff and many wonderful friends. He loved us all, but we loved him more! And we proudly thank him for the special gift he gave to his hometown!
Please remember Shawn with a generous donation to your local food pantry.
Friends may call on the family from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, May 23, at Baker Funeral Home, 11 Lafayette St., Queensbury, with a service to follow. Shawn will be laid to rest with his Dad at Pine View Cemetery, Queensbury.
Condolences and floral arrangements may be sent directly to Baker Funeral Home, 11 Lafayette St., Queensbury, NY 12804; or through www.bakerfuneralhome.com.