Jean-Robert de Cavel, one of Cincinnati’s most beloved and renowned chefs, passed away Friday after a long cancer illness. He was 61.
The award-winning chef was born in France and moved to Cincinnati in 1993, when he became Maisonette’s chef de cuisine. During his tenure, Maisonette was the longest-reigning Mobil five-star restaurant in the country.
De Cavel was the executive chef at Pigall’s from 2002 until 2009, and he later opened Jean-Robert’s Table, which closed in 2020. He was a founding partner and chef de cuisine at JeanRo Bistro, Pho Paris, Greenup Café, and Lavomatic Café. Most recently, he opened Le Bar a Boeuf in East Walnut Hills and The French Crust Café & Bistro in Over-the-Rhine.
De Cavel was a semifinalist for the James Beard Best Chef in the Great Lakes Region award four times in 2008, 2009, 2012, and 2013. He was also nominated for the Best Chef in the Midwest award three times in 2000, 2001, and 2006. He was named a Master Chef by Maîtres Cuisiniers de France in 2007.
After his infant daughter Tatiana passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 2002, de Cavel and his wife, Annette Pfund-de Cavel, founded The de Cavel Family SIDS Foundation. Today, the charity’s eat.play.give brunch is the largest SIDS fund-raiser in the U.S.
De Cavel was diagnosed with aggressive leiomyosarcoma five years ago.
“The entire JR Cincy family is saddened by the loss of our chef, founder, leader and friend, Jean-Robert de Cavel,” reads a statement on the restaurant group’s website. “He loved Cincinnati with his whole heart and he knew how much Cincinnati loved him back. He loved helping you celebrate events big and small, and seeing you spend time with friends and family sharing a meal. In that spirit, both Le Bar a Bouef and French Crust Café & Bistro will remain open for service.”
A memorial Mass will be held at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains, 325 W. Eighth St., on January 16 at 9:30 a.m. Reverend Barry Windholtz will officiate. The de Cavel family asks those planning to attend to wear blue, Jean-Robert’s favorite color.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to The de Cavel Family SIDS Foundation.
Learn more about de Cavel’s culinary legacy below:
- The Man Who Came to Dinner
- House Party
- Jean-Robert de Cavel: Fighting SIDS, 11 Years and Counting
- Le Bar a Boeuf Is Cincinnati’s Lifeline to French Cooking
- Jean-Robert’s Table
- Ritual and Renovation at Jean-Robert de Cavel’s Restaurant L
- Best Restaurants: Restaurant L Does Luxury Like No One Else
- Video: Jean-Robert de Cavel in the Chef’s Spotlight