I have just received word that one of eGullet’s forum hosts, Matthew Xavier Hassett has passed away at the tender young age of 22.
The above photo pictures him having a good time with his foodie friends, at the eGullet Society China 46 Fundraising dinner back in late January of this year. This is just how I remember him, when I drove him home to his parent’s house in Teaneck after a night of Chinese New Year festivities that cold winter evening.
I remember how we talked about how he dreamed of someday cooking at a restaurant as a head chef or owning his own place. He carried himself so well and was such a fun guy to be around.
Here is an excerpt of an email that eGullet Society forum host Melissa Goodman sent me that Matthew wrote to her some months ago:
My love of food has been with me since I can remember. I had one of those “Suzy Homemaker Easy Bake Ovens” when I was five or so, not to mention my playdo kitchen. I have experienced eating out and fine dining since a very since a very young age, to my parents credit they taught me the rules early and the one time I made a scene in a restaurant I was taken to the car by my dad and went hungry that night needless to see it has not happened again. I have eaten in France, England, and Japan. I enjoy all cuisine but my preference is classical French bistro fare. Cooking wise I can thank my mother, as I am sure most of us can, for starting my interest. I always remember being her sous. I gradually overcame her as a cook (she said that not me). I love cooking from recipes, but my passion is going to the market seeing what is good and going from there.
My only plan is to within the next year start culinary school probably CIA and well then the world is my oyster, as they say.
Matthew’s post record on eGullet is indicative of a young person with an intense passion for fine food and dining, and although I didn’t know him very well, I feel like he lived a lot in his short life. He ate at all the finest restaurants in New York City and could hold very intelligent discussions and opinions on them for such a young kid. Frankly, I didn’t know he was only 22 years old until hearing of his passing today, for in so many ways he was far beyond his years. At 22 I didn’t have the sophistication in understanding restaurants, wine, spirits and cuisine like he did, and I’m still catching up with him with many of the places in NYC I have yet to eat at.
Goodbye Matthew. At my next fine meal, I’ll be toasting to you.
If you’d like to leave condolences for Matthew’s family, please click on this link for Volk Leber Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers donations in his memory to the Hemophilia Association of NJ (HANJ) 197 Route 18 So. Suite 206 North, East Brunswick, NJ 08816 would be greatly appreciated by the family