Sunday, November 24, 2013

R.I.P. Jason Cevallos, A Dynamic Force of the James Beard Award-Winning Aviary Team

(Photo: Lou Stejskal)

Chicago's culinary and mixology communities have lost a giant with the sudden death of Jason Cevallos, a Chicago native who most recently worked at The Dawson and Aviary/The Office.

His untimely passing happened Saturday during a trip to Asia, according to his former employer Aviary:

"The staffs of the Aviary, Next and Alinea are beyond saddened to learn that Jason Cevallos, former employee and bartender in The Office, passed away this morning due to complications related to salmonella poisoning.

"Jason was an immensely talented bartender who was a welcoming presence in The Office for over 2 years. He was a favorite of many of our patrons, and his passing is a loss for the Chicago culinary community as a whole. Our deep condolences go out to his family and friends. We will raise a glass to him in the Office tonight."

Jason Cevallos (left) with Aviary owner Grant Achatz (center) and beverage director Charles Joly (second to left) earlier this year after winning a James Beard award (Photo: Kent Miller/James Beard Foundation)

Aviary partner Nick Kokonas added that the West Loop cocktail lounge will soon hold a special memorial service in Jason's honor.

"When appropriate, our entire staff will be hosting a memorial evening at the Aviary with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting his family in helping them pay for their unexpected expenses, with the rest going to the charity of their choice," he told 312DD.

Jason's colleagues all over Chicago and beyond also immediately expressed their condolences, including the staff at Barrelhouse Flat:

"The service industry is a funny one. There are so many fair-weather friends and co-workers. Sometimes you work with people for a week or a couple months or, if you're lucky, more than that. Then one day, usually without warning, it ends. They get another gig at the new spot in town or decide to work 9-5, so they can finally get a good night's rest. You go months without seeing each other then randomly cross paths and awkwardly catch up on what's been happening. You forgot their girlfriend's name, but you're pretty sure they have a dog, so you ask about that. The conversation goes well enough and that's your new relationship- some chit chat over a drink or on the bus. But what would it be like if you didn't even get that random encounter? What would it feel like to not say goodbye to someone you assumed you'd see before the end of the year? Today, the service industry unexpectedly lost Jason Cevallos. His passing is heavy on our hearts and our minds. New experiences won't be made, so we have to focus on the memories we have. It's the little things that stick, isn't it? That delicious drink he made that blew your mind; his silly laugh; a tipsy bear hug and kiss on the cheek at some bar close to sunrise.

"All of us at The Barrelhouse Flat will miss Jason very much and continue to remember him in our individual ways. Let's raise a glass for someone superbly talented, hard-working, funny, and kind. Cheers, buddy! Thanks for the memories."

And from the staff at The Dawson:

"Mr. Jason Cevallos was our bartender, our friend and simply one of the kindest and most passionate people we have ever known. To say he will be missed is a gross understatement. To say he has made an impression on us all is without question. Jason, tonight we celebrate you. Cheers!"

Rest in peace, Jason. You will most certainly be missed.

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