N.J. crisis food stuff company mourns beloved chef

The major emergency food items supplier in Camden is mourning the demise of its former executive chef.

Jonathan Jernigan, 56, led the foods method at Cathedral Kitchen for 12 many years till leaving in July 2020. He appeared on two Meals Community exhibits, which include “Chopped,” and four yrs back was spotlighted in a video clip by Campbell Soup Organization.

“He aided so many men and women get back on their ft,” said Noreen Flewelling, the improvement director at Cathedral Kitchen area.

Jernigan died on Saturday, in accordance to Cathedral Kitchen, which declared his dying through a Fb write-up on Sunday.

Flewelling explained to NJ Advance Media that Jernigan was a beloved presence at Cathedral Kitchen, a nonprofit firm that serves extra than 100,000 meals yearly and also presents a culinary arts coaching method.

“He would say, ‘If I wouldn’t provide it to my mom, I would not serve it to my visitors,’” she reported.

Flewelling recalled how Jernigan would continue being in the eating room, conversing with friends, prolonged right after the previous meal for the working day experienced been served. Other illustrations of his generosity integrated providing his jacket to an individual through a snowstorm and spending someone, in need to have in money, for having out the trash.

“There had been times when we would serve 500 meals in a person working day. He usually took great pleasure in the meals he ready. He would refer to us as the finest 5-star cafe in Camden,” Flewelling said.

“He was just the most cheerful, upbeat person,” she included.

Cathedral Kitchen area did not disclose a trigger of dying. Information and facts on funeral products and services was not instantly offered.

Jonathan Jernigan smiles as he offers a hug to a volunteer following a meal service on April 29, 2014.Lori M. Nichols | NJ Progress Media for NJ.com

Jernigan labored in cooking for about 40 a long time, beginning with a occupation at McDonald’s, Flewelling mentioned. He graduated from The Cafe College of Philadelphia and labored at two dining places ahead of arriving at Cathedral Kitchen area.

He started out as govt chef in 2008 close to when Cathedral Kitchen was finishing construction of its principal developing on Federal Avenue, the place the dining room is located.

Jernigan explained to The Star-Ledger in 2014 that the most fulfilling portion of his work is “seeing that they appreciate what we do for them.”

”When they say, ‘Yo, chef, thank you, man,.’ Just to enjoy their faces. They’ve waited all working day for a food. This is a family members right here,” Jernigan instructed the newspaper.

Jernigan played a critical part in the culinary arts education application, a 17-7 days-prolonged program aimed at individuals who are unemployed or at chance of homelessness.

“He was listed here for all 23 courses we graduated,” Flewelling claimed.

She explained Jernigan still left previous July to commence a non-public catering corporation with a previous scholar, 4 months after Cathedral Kitchen stopped serving in-human being meals because of to COVID-19 worries.

“The pandemic was actually challenging on him. The company weren’t within. The teaching plan was on keep,” Flewelling said.

Simply because Camden’s vaccination amount continues to be minimal in comparison to other regions of New Jersey, Cathedral Kitchen area is even now serving meals wrapped at the entrance door, she added, but is arranging to reopen around Labor Working day. A new government chef was employed in November.

Flewelling stated Jernigan lived in Willingboro in Burlington County and had three youngsters.

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Rob Jennings may well be reached at [email protected].

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