by The Great Foodini
A chef – and I mean a good chef – is a person of quality, a person of taste, and a person of care.
The life of a good chef is spent measuring, worrying, testing, tasting, sharing, loving and hoping. Some chefs are definitely better than others when it comes to the meticulous rigors of the job. On many occasions, you can tell the quality of a chef by the quality of the man/woman under the white hat and coat. A quick scan of what kind of heart they have and how others revere them is an indicator of the amount of effort they put into their passion.
Just recently, while I was sitting in Fillups with Billups eating a pile of heaven, I got a phone call and was told that the 400 lbs. man with the 500 lbs. heart had shuffled off this mortal coil. Darcel Fairley, a longtime friend and chef to my sons at their summer camp at the Kroc Center, was gone.
I sat and cried as I ate my cathead biscuits, sausage, eggs and gravy. I literally cried into my breakfast and then started smiling at what Darcel would think of my mood. He was always such a bundle of joy, happiness and laughter.
I haven’t broken the news to my sons, who had told me Darcel promised to teach them how to make some things in the big kitchen at the Kroc Center. I know tears will be shed.
As the day went on, I watched Darcel’s Facebook feed continue to grow as friends, coworkers and family members said their goodbyes. The permeating theme that I saw in all the posts was the profound impact Darcel had on young people’s lives as a basketball coach, a dad, friend, coworker and chef.
So, wherever the afterlife takes you Darcel, if the universe is just and fair, I bet you are laughing your head off while fixin’ up a big ole mess of wonderful southern cooking. What the Earth lost this past week was definitely someone else’s gain in the afterlife. I will miss you chef and it looks like the rest of South Mississippi will too and I will never forget the time we judged ribs together and you never stopped singing between bites.