I received some pretty heartbreaking news just after January 1st that a dear local chef, Colin Dewey, died in a tragic accident over the New Year (he reportedly fell down some stairs, how awful). So shocking. It’s hard to grasp that he is gone. Not only was Colin a thoughtful, talented, skilled, and completely badass chef, but he was just the NICEST guy. No attitude. He was all warmth, and so good-natured, and had a big, goofy laugh that I just loved.
I met Colin about 10 years ago when he was the chef de cuisine at Bix (and was behind my favorite cloth-napkin burger), while working for one of our other big hearts in this local culinary scene of ours, Bruce Hill. He left to work in New York (at Del Posto under Mario Batali and Mark Ladner, and at Felidia with Lidia Bastianich), but fortunately we got him back, and he was the executive chef at Zero Zero. He then went on a sabbatical to cook in Italy before becoming the exec at Florio, and he then went to Perbacco…
In past years, he has been working with Casa de Case importers as their chef, and I have been so fortunate to enjoy his cooking with the team at their annual warehouse dinner party (“Cena Nel Magazzino”). It was always such an impressive feat, seeing them cook a huge feast for so many guests, which seemed to grow massively each year. Tortellini in brodo, bollito misto, the biggest vat of polenta he had to stir with a huge paddle…he’d be in the makeshift kitchen, sweating and yet still smiling while manning three different pots on huge burners and berating me for taking pictures of him as he was about to burn the garlic. I remember cackling together.
For me, one of my favorite memories of his cooking was the incredible gourmet popcorn he created for the after-hours screening party I hosted for Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent. The Casa de Case crew recreated the famous Stars hotdog (Howard and Kris were big Stars regulars) and Colin made the most fantastic gourmet popcorn for the event since we were going to be in a theater: he made Parm Pop with 24-month parmigiano, oregano, and peperoncino, and Fish Pop, with colatura di alici, garlic, lemon, anchovy, chile, and bottarga grated on top. I swear, every chef at the party was losing their mind for this popcorn. Colin was so creative, and so prepared—I remember his station all set up just-so, and he was early. There was even a sign for the table. Come on! Such a pro. What a guy.
I can’t imagine the heartache everyone is experiencing who knew him well, loved him, worked with him, and grew up with him…he was such a special human. One who was tragically and unexpectedly taken from us, way too soon. Such a shock—it’s a tough one to grasp. Heartfelt condolences to his family and everyone mourning his departure, there are many. Rest in peace, sweet man. Heaven is so lucky to have their angel back, and they don’t even know about the Parm Pop.
Colin working three pots of pasta at a Casa de Case Cena Nel Magazzino. Photo: © tablehopper.com.