Chef Jean-Robert de Cavel, an adopted child of Cincinnati who helped revive fine dining in the area, passed away on Friday at the age of 61.
De Cavel relocated to Cincinnati in 1993 at the age of 32 to work at The Maisonette, the only restaurant in the city to receive a Mobil 5-star rating. He later launched a number of upscale eateries, including Table, Pigalls Le Bar a Boeuf, and French Crust Café and Bistro.
Since 2018, De Cavel has fought leiomyosarcoma, a rare cancer that develops in the smooth muscles. Despite this, De Cavel has never let his illness prevent him from working or from considering opening a new restaurant.
“I’ll never get better, “In May, de Cavel spoke with The Enquirer. “I just need to have courage. I remain very upbeat. Keep doing what you’re doing because it’s effective, advises my medical team. Never give up, never.
On September 12, 1961, in Roubaix, France, De Cavel was born. Prior to moving to Cincinnati in 1993, he worked as the chef de cuisine at La Regence and La Gauloise in New York. He attended the Le Feguide culinary school in Lille, France.
In a 2021 interview, he said, “I did the same thing I would have done anywhere else, which is not try to make the city better, but being proud of what Cincinnati is.
His adopted city welcomed De Cavel. He was named a Great Living Cincinnatian in the class of 2021 by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, and last year, Seventh Street at the intersection of Seventh and Vine in downtown was officially renamed Jean Robert de Cavel Way.
De Cavel remarked, “I didn’t realise how fortunate I was to have everyone’s support. “I think when people adopt you, you feel comfortable,” said the person who quickly adopted me. In comparison to New York City, Cincinnati made it simpler for me to grow as a person.
De Cavel loved his city and made himself available to assist with numerous charitable causes. He was affectionately known to many in the service industry simply as “Chef.” After Tatiana, their firstborn child, died suddenly from SIDs, De Cavel and his wife Annette Pfund de Cavel established the de Cavel Family SIDS Foundation. 2002 saw her passing.
The Friends & Family brunch at the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College is now an annual event hosted by the foundation.
Numerous chefs who came out of De Cavel’s restaurants will continue to have an impact on the Cincinnati area and the country for many more years.
In 2021, he declared, “It is crucial in my line of work to also be a teacher, to impart your knowledge so that your team members can one day lead and cook.”
De Cavel leaves behind his daughter Leticia as well as his wife Annette.