This morning chefs from all over the world gathered at St. Monica Church in Dallas to pay their last respects to Dallas’ most significant chef Jean LaFont. Once family and friends were seated, a parade of over 50 chefs dressed in chef whites filed down the aisle. It was a stunning moment. Forgive me for not getting all of their names in here. I hope if you were there, you will leave your name below. I recognized, with the help of Chris Ward: Chef Ewald Scholz, Chef Christian Gerber, Chef Cherif Brahmi, Chef Didier Viriot, Jean Marie Cadot, Chef Louis Vacher, Chef Joe Garza, Chef Laurent Champalle, Chef David Brawley, Chef David Sokol, Chef Chris Ward, Chef Sharon Van Meter, Chef Pete Curley. Other notable names include Phil Vacarro, Anne and François Chandou, and Patrick Esquerre. Hedda Dowd and Jim Deibel both spoke. Deibel told the crowd how he entered the “French-only” kitchen at Oz and applied for a job while all the other chefs snickered. Dowd, a longtime friend of LaFont, gave a moving speech on LaFont’s character. He left home at 13 to become a butcher and worked his way up through every station in traditional brigade system kitchens of France. “He was a “complete chef,” she said. “He was a rôtisseur, a patissier, a saucier, a poissonnier. He could do it all. He was a chef whose presence was known the second he walked into a kitchen.” To paraphrase Dowd, Jean LaFont taught so many chefs how to cook, the ripple effect of his talent will be with us for a long time. LaFont is survived by seven children: Sonia, Stephanie, Jean-Luc, Mireille, Jean-Pierre, Magali, and Marise; four grandchildren, two sisters, and two former wives. And a huge community of food loving friends. The family will be checking this site. Please feel free to leave them a note. (Or correct my spelling!) Short video after jump.
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