Much-loved chef Matt Farrer passed away June 7 at the age of 34, less than two years after he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Farrer worked in several Seattle restaurants, most recently as sous chef at Capitol Hill's Restaurant Zoe. Zoe owner Scott Staples says, "he was a good man, positive, and a friend to everyone…[he was] loyal and garnered loyalty."
A two time member of the US Rowing Junior National Team, Farrer went on to join Husky Crew at the University of Washington, where he began cooking for teammates. He worked in the Rainier Club while enrolled in culinary school and spent time in the kitchen at Crush, Canlis, and Willows Inn.
Eater asked members of the Seattle restaurant community to pay tribute to Farrer.
Mark Canlis, Canlis:
I'll always remember this about him: He was big. Bigger than me, bigger than life, bigger than the situation around him. He had a big, generous smile and the same is true for his heart. It's encouraging to me to remember him, for he left a big imprint on those who knew him, and for those, like me, who wished we knew him even better.
Blaine Wetzel, Willows Inn:
Years ago Matt and I were applying for the same position at the same time. We were in the kitchen together preparing our dishes side by side. He was interested in what I was doing and went out of his way to help me plate up my dish when he was done. That was the type of person Matt was, always smiling, always willing to help, just a super nice guy. He staged here at the Willows Inn for about a month when we had an opening and did a great job.
Jason Wilson, Crush:
Matt was a very dear friend, a very talented chef, and an extremely gifted man. I was lucky enough to meet him and begin our relationship in 2005 just after opening Crush, he came on as a stage for three months until we all decided that we were best having him all the time and he joined our team full time. Matt's constant thirst for trying new dishes, his almost religious dedication to furthering his knowledge and his incredible level of discipline were a constant level of inspiration at Crush and between our friendship. He always pushed for perfection and inspired those around him to achieve greater.
The day my son Ferrin was born—he wasn't due for two more weeks—we had a catering [event] scheduled off-site that was [with] an important client. Nicole went into labor as soon as I returned home from work at 2:30 a.m., by 6:00 a.m. I was calling Matt and Drew informing them where I had stashed my keys and some money and all the details for the catering that I had intended to do. With four hours sleep, they rallied to pull off an impeccable brunch for the client. The beauty of Matt's friendship will be felt throughout my life and the greatness, grace, and strength by which he lived I am passing on to my son.
A memorial service for Matt is scheduled for June 30 at noon at Saint Mark's in Capitol Hill. Gifts in his name can be given to the Matt Farrer Memorial Fund at Big Table.
· This Is Matt Farrer...And His Benefit Dinner [Nosh Pit]
· Flash Talk: Evenings of Hope [Seattle Mag]
· Big Table, Big Heart [Seattle Refined]