Monday, January 16, 2023

Cincinnati pays final respects to chef Jean-Robert de Cavel

The crowd at a Downtown cathedral was well beyond capacity Monday morning as more than 1,300 people turned out to pay respects to the late chef Jean-Robert de Cavel. The Mass, which took place the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Peter in Chains, drew friends family and chefs from across the city and across the nation to mourn de Cavel, who died on Dec. 23 of complications from cancer.

Among the mourners were hundreds of chefs, dressed in their finest chefs whites, who had either worked for or been inspired by de Cavel. Along with local food celebrities, mourners included the world-renowned New York chef Daniel Boulud, who first encouraged de Cavel to move to Cincinnati to work at the Maisonette.

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“He has been such an important person, not only for his staff but for his customers,” Boulud told The Enquirer. “You see how many people who came, it shows how much he was appreciated… What he left behind is incredible. Cincinnati loved him and I think he loved Cincinnati back so much.”

Chefs wear their white coats to honor Jean-Robert de Cavel, during his funeral at The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Peter in Chains in downtown Cincinnati, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. In attendance was renowed chef Daniel Boulud, sixth from right, who encouraged de Cavel to take the Maisonette job back in 1993.

The day included remembrances from de Cavel’s good friend Dennis Spiegel, who equated de Cavel’s death with a metaphor many in attendance could understand. “A burner has gone out on Cincinnati’s culinary scene and it can never be relit.”

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Other remembrances were provided by de Cavel’s friend Mark Avondoglio, of New Jersey, and Anne Cappel, a founding board member of the European-American Chamber of Commerce in Cincinnati.

Laeticia de Cavel, daughter of Jean-Robert de Cavel, talks about her dad during his funeral at The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Peter in Chains in downtown Cincinnati Monday, Jan. 16, 2023.

Laeticia de Cavel, daughter of Jean-Robert de Cavel: ‘A piece of my heart will forever be lost’

But the most emotional remembrance came from de Cavel’s daughter, Laeticia de Cavel, who spoke of the brave face she forced herself to wear after her father received his cancer diagnosis, and how her favorite night of the week was always Monday when de Cavel would be off work and she would sit down with him and her mother, Annette Pfund-de Cavel, for dinner. Their own little “party of three.”

“A piece of my heart will forever be lost,” she said.

Merci, chef. Merci.A city mourns the loss of its favorite chef, Jean-Robert de Cavel

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