2014 in Food & Drink: Prominent Chefs and Innovators We Have Lost This Year

2014 was a great year for food innovation, but sadly we lost some of the greats of the food and drink world

Chef Matt Haley was one of several revered chefs who died this year.  

The year 2014 was an innovative and busy one in the food and drink world, from the rise in popularity of the health-conscious fast casual food chains like Chipotle and Panera to soda companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi promising to cut American soda intake by 20 percent. However, we also lost several important chefs, restaurateurs, and food innovators this year. Figureheads of the old-school New York food scene, like the founder of Tom’s Restaurant and Carol Grimaldi of legendary Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, are no longer with us. Tragically, we also lost chefs to accidents, like chef Darío Barrio and Matt Haley, who died in a base-jumping and motorcycle accident, respectively.

The Daily Meal has paid respect to each of the lives lost in the culinary world this year, and hope that their memories will inspire the chefs and food innovators of the future.

Chef Grant Howard, Rising Star Chef in Houston “Gordon was a promising young chef who was quickly rising to the pinnacle of culinary success with several accolades under his belt, including a place in Forbes’ '30 Under 30 in Food and Wine' in 2012, as well as being named a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef of the Year award.”

S. Truett Cathy, Founder of Chick-fil-A — “ Chick-fil-A has 1,800 restaurant locations nationwide, and reports more than $5 billion in profits annually. Cathy, unlike many other chain restaurant founders, was involved in his restaurants’ operations well into his '80s, and refused to retire until the very end.”

Gus Vlahavas, Owner of Tom’s Restaurant “Until he retired from the restaurant's day-to-day operations, Vlahavas was known for serving out small snacks, like orange slices or vanilla cookies with whipped cream, to customers waiting to be seated, a tradition that continues today.”

Roger Fessaguet, Haute Cuisine Legend “ Under Fessaguet’s guidance, the kitchen delivered beautifully executed French classics like roast duck, stuffed turbot, and soufflés… Among the guests who came to enjoy Fessaguet’s fine work were Pablo Picasso, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Marlene Dietrich, to name a few.”

Carol Grimaldi, Matriarch and Co-Founder of Grimaldi’s Pizza “ Carol was a fixture near and dear to the many neighbors, frequent customers, and vendors of Grimaldi’s and was a driving force behind the creation of Juliana’s.”

Chef Matt Haley, Humanitarian and James Beard Award Winning-Chef “Much of Chef Haley’s time had gone to furthering the education — both culinary and academic — of disadvantaged children…  When the accident occurred, Haley was en route to deliver stoves to a village in Nepal with a filmmaker and eight or nine experienced motorcyclists.”

Darío Barrio, Famed Spanish Chef “Barrio was the owner of Dassa Bassa restaurant in Madrid, and had become famous throughout Spain for his appearances on the TV show, Todos Contra el Chef.”

Gisèle Masson, Owner of New York Iconic La Grenouille — “ Together with her husband Charles Masson Sr., Gisèle opened La Grenouille in December 1962 in the middle of a blizzard. Charles Sr. became a staple fixture in the front of the house and attentively curated the restaurant’s atmosphere, while Gisèle ran the business side as 'the brains' of the place.”

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Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi