It is with great sadness that we learned of the sudden tragic death of Chef Dan DeMatteis on Wednesday the fourth of July 2012.
His passing has sent tremors throughout our culinary and hospitality community as to say that Dan was well-liked would be a tremendous understatement.
Words cannot begin to express the grief felt by so many of us who came to know and love Dan through having worked alongside him over the years.
Our collective thoughts go out to his family and friends in what are undoubtedly difficult times.
Chef Brad Long, Belong Café:
The gentlest lumbering giant touching leaf and green.
Dan didn’t so much work as wallow in the kitchen.
He was the kitchen.
He harrumphed at frill and waste.
He held precious the simplest, the honest, the clear and clean.
Dan gracefully soared the kitchen thermals while awkwardly tossing pan and
Work and ethic.
Ethic and love.
Connecting cook to ingredient, ingredient to ingredient, ingredients to
hand, hand to plate.
He somehow just knew.
How did he know?
Dan, we love you and we won’t forget, I promise, but we may get a little
hungry now and then.
Chef Jamie Kennedy, Jamie Kennedy Kitchens:
Sad news of Dan Dematteis’s passing has sent shockwaves through the gastronomic community. Sweat and tears streamed down my face as I rode my bike through the city yesterday afternoon, trying to put this tragedy into perspective. No matter how hard I tried, the information would not sink in. It just bounced off. I expect it will be some time before I am at peace again.
For now my thoughts turned to the man whom I have known for years. I met Dan in my office at the ROM where he had stopped by to ask if he could volunteer in my kitchen. I sent him out to Superior to work with Ken and Thaya; the best place to start. I got to know Dan well over the many years we worked together. Dan had a unique, intellectual approach to his work. We discussed cooking and all matters relating to food. We shared a particular zeal for the work of SlowFood and the ideology of celebrating and protecting traditional foodways in the wake of the industrial era. He was drawn into our field because I think he felt he could make a difference; that he could raise the bar. He recognized the currency of the work we were doing in the local food movement. He was emerging as an important leader in upholding the values of community based economies in food.
I hang on to his thoughtfulness as I struggle to grasp anything that makes sense of what has occurred. So thoughtful and considerate he was of his many friends and acquaintances in his community. So thoughtful he was about the role we play as arbiters of taste, helping to educate and direct others in making sound decisions around the provenance of our food with a focus on ethical production in ways that ensure excellence today and guarantee excellence to future generations.
Dan, you are the man, thank you for reminding us to be thoughtful in all that we do and of everyone we meet.
Tobey Nemeth, Edulis Restaurant:
I shared a lot of french fries with Dan over the many years I have known him, and a lot of talk about sausages of different varieties, and ice cream, and why green bell peppers don’t belong on restaurant menus. He even e-mailed me to tell me that Ferran Adria, when Dan cooked for him at the Wine Bar, told him through his translator that he will not eat green peppers. We shared a transatlantic wondrous laugh over that. We shared a lot of laughs in general.
Dan was affectionate, funny, smart as hell, and an outstanding, natural, genius of a cook. He had a calm, quiet devotion to beautiful food, and a reverence for the people who craft it. We were kindred spirits in our love of delicious things. His generosity, his gentleness, his sincerity, his affectionate nature made him a great friend. We had coffees and too many croissants in Vancouver, and he came on the train to visit us Tuscany, where we ate and ate and he folded himself up to fit in our tiny tiny car and drove with us on impossible dirt tracks to find magical restaurants for more feasting. He was a good egg, as they say – a great egg. The Dan-shaped hole in our universe we now face is just so tremendously sad and unfair.
Annette Bruley, a close friend of Dan’s, recently communicated the following information regarding a memorial for Dan via Facebook:
Dan’s family have decided that they would like to hold his Memorial sooner than later, and have decided to hold it this coming Monday at the Young Welcome Centre at The Brickworks. Brad Long and Renata Clingen will be hosting the memorial.
To reiterate Renata’s request, if you have any photos or written stories you would like to share, please forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible so that they may be used for the memorial.
Due to the change of events, we’ve decided to cancel the Done Right Inn gathering. Having said that, I think there will still be some of us hanging out at The Done Right Sunday night so please feel free to join.