Introducing: Phillip Sutherland

| Scene Reporter

Phillip Sutherland works at Cherry Tree Café, winning students over with his unique sandwich creations and his friendly personality.Grace Fung | Student Life

Phillip Sutherland works at Cherry Tree Café, winning students over with his unique sandwich creations and his friendly personality.

Bear’s Den has a Renaissance man on its hands. Phillip Sutherland is a triple threat: sandwich genius, musical talent and genuinely great person. But apart from the fact that he makes a killer Dagwood, do you really know Phillip?

Phillip has lived in St. Louis for all of his 26 years. He was born to Robin Sutherland and Antonio Miles and has three siblings: older brother Timothy, younger sister Mary and younger brother Andrew. Mother Robin primarily raised Phillip and his siblings, while also taking classes to become a teacher. She started teaching elementary school after her kids were old enough to care for themselves.

Phillip has been married for two years to his wife, Tanesha. They met shopping—he was shopping for musical instruments and she was shopping for something for her twin sister. “They’re almost identical, but I can tell them apart,” Phil said with a laugh.

Phillip has worked at Bear’s Den for two years. “I started on Halloween. That was an interesting night to start working.” He came in as a cook originally, but Dining Services was short on porters, so he helped out where he could. He began making sandwiches at the Cherry Tree Café about a year and a half ago. He’s also been a shift leader for production.

In addition, he plays in the worship band at the Lively Stone Church of God, the church he has attended his whole life. He started on drums when he was two years old and developed a great love for music. In fifth grade he learned how to play the violin and read music, which led to him pick up the piano, the bass and the organ. The drums and organ are his favorite instruments, and he plays primarily gospel and classical music. For the church band, he originally just played the drums, but one night the band’s piano player was working during the service. Phillip played the piano for that night, then he learned how to play the organ the next time the organist was out, and soon his musical versatility led to new doors opening up for him.

“I was asked to play for a kid’s choir. At first I was reluctant, because I had never taught vocals or anything like that before,” Phillip said. But he kept an open mind, and despite a rocky start, everything worked out. The choir has played four concerts under Phillip’s direction.

Making music is only one of his many talents, though. He’s created a line of custom sandwiches for the Cherry Tree Café: the Phillippe sandwiches. The original Phillippe was just a variation on the custom meat, a sort of fusion of students’ ideas and his own ideas. But now there are many spinoffs, including the Phillippe XP—a PB&J with apples, bananas and honey—and the Phillippe Cheese, which takes five different cheeses (Swiss, American, feta, Provolone and mozzarella) and toasts them to a nice crisp. Phillip also recently invented the Veggie Phillippe. “What about the veggie people? Y’all need a sandwich, too,” he joked. The Veggie Phillippe is a combination of hummus, olive relish, eggplant, sauerkraut, mozzarella cheese, lettuce and tomato on two slices of nicely toasted wheat bread. Lately he’s been working on a new sandwich with roast beef, ham, Swiss, American and a touch of honey mustard on an herb roll. “It’s currently untitled, but I’ll probably call it the Phillippe PS,” he said with a smile.

The Phillippe XP, along with a healthy dose of Phillip’s great attitude, recently made one student’s day. Phillip tells the story of a student who had just done poorly on a midterm and came to the café close to tears. She told Phillip that normally she would call her dad, but he was in a meeting all day. So Phillip offered to make her the Phillippe XP, with a special twist.

He wrote “Dad Loves You” in chocolate syrup on the sandwich and the girl started bawling. “You just made my day so much better,” the girl said. She credits the Phillippe XP for the much better grade she got on her next midterm.

This is only one of the many instances of Phillip’s kindness. “I can always look forward to Phil’s smiling face and warm conversation. His positive energy always puts me in a good mood,” said sophomore Tabia Yapp.

Freshman Archer Brock agreed.

“He makes a wicked PB&J and an even better mozzarella caprese. But the fact that he’s joking around with the students while he works makes the wait for food fun, so that’s what’s really awesome,” she said.

Phillip says things like that are the least he can do.

“I’m here to make your day better and to make your college experience as easy as I can make it,” he said.