Hundreds turn out for chef Jean-Robert de Cavel's funeral
Hundreds turn out for chef Jean-Robert de Cavel's funeral (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - St. Peter in Chains Cathedral Basilica was filled for the service to honor and celebrate the life of chef Jean-Robert de Cavel Monday morning.

Hundreds turn out for chef Jean-Robert de Cavel's funeral (WKRC, Cincinnati Business Courier)

Many of the chefs who trained under him returned to pay their respects.

De Cavel died in his sleep on December 23 after being diagnosed with cancer in May of 2018.

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After the service, Chef Daniel Boulud, a world-renowned two-Michelin-star restaurant owner from New York, shared a story about de Cavel looking for a change in his culinary path.

"I said, 'Jean-Robert, there is an opportunity in Cincinnati to become a chef at La Maisonette. Would you like to go there and check it out?' And of course, he came to Cincinnati and the rest is history," Boulud said.

Boulud says de Cavel helped put Cincinnati's food scene on the national and world stage.

So many customers will come from Cincinnati to New York and say, 'Oh, do you know Jean-Robert?'" said Boulud. "The first words they had to say was about their chef in Cincinnati, how proud they were.

De Cavel trained many of the chefs Boulud has worked with through the years.

One of those is William Nacev, who now works at Le Pavillon in New York.

"I knew nothing when I started at [de Cavel's] restaurant. I just wanted a job, and he was nice enough to say, 'Yes.' I wanted to work at Pigall's, which was his flagship, and he didn't hesitate. Hard work and passion were all that was required to start and he could teach the rest," Nacev said.

It wasn't only the fine dining community saying goodbye.

Freestore Foodbank president Kurt Reiber says de Cavel did so much for the city in terms of giving and helping those less fortunate.

"Our Taste of the NFL, our Taste of the Bengals event, it was one of the top five throughout the country primarily because of Chef Jean-Robert's involvement with it," Reiber said. "In the 15 years he was associated with it, we raised over $1 million and provided over three million meals to families in the Tri-State area."

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