Chef Q&A: Pam Thomas, Pammie’s Sammies

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Pam Thomas is the chef and owner of Pammie’s Sammies in historic downtown Winter Garden. Locals and visitors love this casual, eclectic spot for specialty sandwiches, creative pizzas, and ground short rib and brisket burgers. Our go-to is the Who’s Your Daddy? — fried bologna, American cheese, crushed Fritos and mustard on ciabatta.

An Interview with Chef Pam Thomas

If you could travel anywhere in the world to eat for one week, where would it be and why? I’ve traveled a lot and eaten some spectacular meals. I’ve always been an adventurous foodster. If I could travel anywhere, it would be back in time and spend a week dining and drinking with people I love or I didn’t know I would miss so much – like that hamburger when I was four or five at the counter of Chamber’s Drug Store with my mom and dad…fish fries by the Mississippi River on my grandparent’s farm…The Peabody in Memphis with my aunt when I made my first long(ish) trip in my first car…lunch with my husband in someone’s home/restaurant (we have no idea who they were) in Tivoli after visiting Hadrian’s Villa…an outdoor cafe just outside Versailles with my daughter when we ordered lunch by pointing to items on a menu and were so delighted with what we had randomly chosen…black beans and rice with my sister on the patio…oysters with my brother anywhere…that’s where I’d go for a week.

Who had the biggest influence on the way you cook, and why? All the women in my family…grandmother, mom, mom-in-law, daughter, sister, aunt…they’re all excellent and adventurous when it comes to food!

What’s one thing that you always wished you could prepare, and why? Cheese. I’ve had some luck with soft cheeses but would love to really explore.

If you weren’t a chef, what would your dream job be? A farmer.

What advice would you share with chefs just beginning their careers? Make sure that you are truly passionate about this because it’s a very challenging career choice and your success depends on countless different factors.

The Food Scene in Central Florida

If you could change one thing about Orlando’s food scene, what would it be?Have an open mind. Get over yourself and stay out of your own way. Be careful when you say you make “the best” anything. Learn from cooks more than you do books. STAY OFF THE INTERNET AND READ…real books

What was it like for you when Florida restaurants were in lockdown? We opened in Winter Garden the day the state shut down in March of 2020. No one got laid off – we never closed. We did what we had to…opened a pop-up grocery, expanded carryout, worked diligently on safe working conditions and packaging for our guests.

For more Chef Q&A’s, visit our archives.

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