After reading The New York Times Magazine reverent salute to the artists and influencers who died in 2012, this Examiner got to thinking.
Who is to give witness to the great chefs who died this year -- and some -- all too soon?
A detailed and comprehensive search yielded more than a few chefs who left the culinary world. Curiously, some left by violence. Others by extraordinary circumstances,
We are most fortunate that in the scheme of things—especially in comparison to the music and cinema arts, the food world retains so much of our talent every year.
Most of the chef deaths are due to accidents and old age.
Herewith is the testament and tribute to the culinary world’s loss this year: 2012.
We respect these chefs. We mourn our loss. We acknowledge their contribution to our culinary heritage.
Chef Kevin Boyle
The Jamie Oliver Star lay dead in a garden for three months
It was a tragic end for TV trainee chef, Kevin Boyle, whose body was found in a garden near his home –three months after he vanished in January 2102.
Talented chef Kevin was featured in the hit Channel 4 show Jamie’s Kitchen as one of the chef’s initial 15 trainees.
He went on to cook for Prince Charles at Clarence House, plus ex-PM Tony Blair, Oprah Winfrey and actor Jake Gyllenhaal at Jamie’s Fifteen restaurant in Shoreditch, East London.
At the time of the loss, chef Jamie said: “I’m deeply saddened by this tragic news. I am proud to have been able to call Kevin a friend for ten years.
Chef Sylvia Woods
Harlem soul-food restaurateur, Sylvia’s Restaurant, died, July 2012. She was 86.
Her death came a few hours before she was to receive an award from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg at a reception at Gracie Mansion commemorating the 50th anniversary of Sylvia’s Restaurant. There was a moment of silence before the award presentation; a family friend accepted it on her behalf.
Sylvia’s Restaurant opened on Aug. 1, 1962 — with six booths and 15 stools — at Lenox Avenue near 127th Street, offering soul-food staples like ribs, hot cakes, corn bread and fried chicken. The immense popularity of its dishes earned Ms. Woods the sobriquet the Queen of Soul Food.
A culinary anchor and the de facto social center of Harlem, Sylvia’s has served the likes of Roberta Flack; Quincy Jones; Diana Ross; Muhammad Ali; Bill Clinton; Jack Kemp; Robert F. Kennedy; and, besides Mr. Bloomberg, Mayors Edward I. Koch and David N. Dinkins, who was partial, Ms. Woods said, to the chicken, candied yams, collard greens and black-eyed peas with rice.
Busloads of tourists from as far away as Japan routinely descend on the place.
Spike Lee used the restaurant as a location for his 1991 film “Jungle Fever.”
Sylvia’s inspired two cookbooks by Ms. Woods, “Sylvia’s Soul Food: Recipes From Harlem’s World Famous Restaurant” (1992; with Christopher Styler) and “Sylvia’s Family Soul Food Cookbook: From Hemingway, South Carolina, to Harlem” (1999; with Melissa Clark).
www.sylviassrestaurant.com/ 328 Lenox Avenue, NYC 10027 (212) 996-2669
Keith S. Greene
Chef Keith, a contestant on Hell’s Kitchen, died from drowning on Tuesday, August 14th. He was 35, married and had children ages 2 and 1.
Newsday reported that his body “was discovered about 11 a.m. [Tuesday] by a couple walking along the shore near Wyandanch Lane Beach” in the Hamptons. In a later story, the paper reported that two hours before his body was discovered, he “told a police officer he was OK, just swimming and hanging out in the water.”
Keith, whose nickname was K-Grease, placed third in the second season of the Fox show; another chef on that season, Rachel Brown, died in 2007.
Popular chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni died of heart attack at a city hospital on Sunday, November
A resident of Anna Nagar, India, Jacob was 37 and a bachelor. He was also a successful restaurateur and the host of a cookery show on TV.
Jacob is known for exploring south Indian cuisine. He started to cook at the age of 14, and soon inherited the cooking style of his mother. Jacob created a Guinness world record for the longest individual barbecue marathon.
Robert Reynolds, the founder of Southeast Portland's Chef Studio cooking school and a mentor to countless Portland chefs, died early August 27th, after battling lymphoma. He was 70.
Reynolds honed his cooking skills in San Francisco and France before moving to Portland in 1999, according to Blake Van Roekel, who worked with Reynolds for the past five years. In 2007, he moved Chef Studio, his classroom-cum-supper club, into a 600 square-foot kitchen space behind Ken's Artisan Pizza in Southeast Portland.
"He's been a special and dear man to so many people in Portland," says Van Roekel, who called Robert a dear friend. "He has brought so much to us. We're just very happy that he passed peacefully surrounded at home by friends and family and a very nice Armagnac."
Chef Sergio Abramof
Quoted as mentor and pioneer, died August 28th. He produced some of Cleveland's most exciting flavors. He maintained two of the city's consistently excellent restaurants. And he exuded mirthful hospitality that embraced the steady stream of customers crowding his dining rooms.
Nobody maintained an exuberant samba beat quite like Sergio Abramof.
Abramof was a singularly superb chef, host and raconteur. His sudden death from undisclosed causes last week stunned a city known for a burgeoning food scene that the Brazilian-born restaurateur championed throughout his career.
"He was part of the renaissance that elevated Cleveland -- he deserves a lot of the credit for where we're at today," says veteran chef Paul Minnillo of Flour restaurant in Moreland Hills.
Minnillo described himself as "just devastated" over the loss.
"Sergio was one of the classiest guys in the business. He was THE consummate gentleman," Minnillo added.
A gentleman who welcomed guests into his restaurants -- Sergio's in University Circle, which he opened in 1995, and Sergio's Sarava, a bustling locus of Latin-inspired nightlife in Shaker Square -- with a deft mix of warm enthusiasm and restraint. Guests doted on Abramof's consistently well-executed fare, attention to often-minute details, and a zesty atmosphere of fun. The two businesses routinely appeared among the 100 eateries on The Plain Dealer's "A-List."
Tributes have been pouring in since Saturday, when word broke on Cleveland.com about his death at age 56. Young chefs ardently recalled Abramof
Art Ginsburg, aka “Mr. Food,” TV chef, died November 21, 2012. He was 81.
According to the NY Times’ obit: “He found his first real career when the caterer at his son’s bar mitzvah was drunk, and he had to take over. Soon he was catering all over the region. This culinary repute led to him being asked in the early 1970s to do short television appearances on local morning shows, which in turn led to syndication.”
Ginsburg produced 52 cookbooks over the course of his cooking career, selling eight million copies. His website attracted 1.7 million visitors monthly.
He also was featured in 230 90-second TV vignettes a year, that were broadcast on local television stations.
A pioneering TV cook influence, Rachel Ray said Ginsburg helped her early in her career.
He is quoted to have said about the joy of his cooking, “It’s a wonderful thing to be able to put something on the table and be the center of attention.”
The Fat Duck
November 21 was a bad day for chefs… Two chefs from Heston Blumenthal’s British restaurant, The Fat Duck, were killed in a car crash while in Hong Kong that resulted in the deaths of two visiting chefs from Heston Blumenthal's famous British restaurant, The Fat Duck. Jorge Ivan Arango Herrera, known as Jorge, and Carl Magnus Lindgren, who went by Magnus.
The French Laundry, owned by chef Thomas Keller in California, tweeted: "Today we have a heavy heart... Thoughts and prayers go out to the entire team of The Fat Duck & their families on this most difficult day."
A young and promising chef is being remembered for his warm personality, passion for his craft and skill in the kitchen.
Food Network Canada said the untimely death of Canadian celebrity chef Anthony Sedlak is a terrible loss. He was 29.
A statement issued by his family said Sedlak was found dead in his North Vancouver, B.C., apartment on Friday, after collapsing from an undiagnosed medical condition.
Sedlak was best-known as the host of Food Network Canada's The Main, a judge on Family Cook Off, as well as author of the national bestseller cookbook, The Main.
Sedlak's culinary career began in his teens, with completion of a specialized program and four-year apprenticeship in Vancouver, and he was barely in his 20s before he had spent almost two years at Michelin Star-rated La Trompette, in London, England.
He was 23 when he won a silver medal representing Canada at the World Junior Chef Challenge in New Zealand, and just months later, he captured The Food Network's Superstar Chef Challenge.
A Chinese Chef Died After Serving the World’s Deadliest Mushroom by Accident
We've all been tempted to pick wild mushrooms, if only because they're free. Sadly, when a Chinese chef did just that he made a mistake, and accidentally served himself and a colleague the world's deadliest mushroom.
Liu Jun, 38, a chef from China, found himself visiting Australia over the New Year with his female kitchen hand, Tsou Hsiang, 52. On New Year's Eve, the chef mistakenly made a stir fry using Death Cap mushrooms.
Sadly, Jun and Hsiang both ate the stir-fry, and subsequently died from liver failure at a hospital on Tuesday night. Fortunately, the meal had not been offered to the public: the dish was cooked for personal consumption.
The chef had apparently picked the mushrooms himself, mistaking them for edible straw mushrooms. A bad move, because they are among the most poisonous
Under the “way too creepy” headline, there was this new report:
A Los Angeles chef on trial for the murder of his wife told investigators that he disposed of her body by boiling it for four days then trashed the remains with other waste in a grease pit in his restaurant.
David Viens, 49, was a chef at the Thyme Contemporary Café in Lomita, Calif., when on Oct. 18, 2009 he came home and argued with his 39-year-old wife.
Focus on the best news.
Cheers and Happy New Year’s to the best and brightest food and drink artisans in 2013.