Lessons from chef gary

Remembering gary williams

By JR Robinson

This article is brought to you by Krewe of DeJavu Check out their menu!

Bradley Whitford

“Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.”

This was the Chef Gary I knew, he was a guy that never waited on God. He did the work, he gave the help, he shared a meal, he loved the Saints, he shared joy, he inspired others to act, and God followed up with blessings. Chef Gary would not want me to be writing this from a place of sadness. Instead he would want this written with the joy that was his life. So instead of writing a tribute to Chef Gary, I decided to just share with you some of what Gary taught me in our many conversations.

Joy is Always in Season

Chef Gary had struggles like we all do, but I never saw it. I knew they were there. He would share things about cash flow issues, taxes, and health. But it was never in a “woe is me” spirit. Gary always had that smile on his face that said, right now this is a season of Joy. If there was one take away that I want to carry fourth from knowing Chef Gary, this is on the top ten list. Joy is always the best choice, no matter what you are going through.

You can Always Give

Giving is one of those things that seemed like it was built into the DNA of Chef Gary. Even on his most difficult of days, his giving spirit was on display in some shape of form. Gary was cooking a meal for someone or donating to a cause. The word no when it came to giving was almost not there at all. I was had first hand experience seeing Chef Gary helping someone when I knew he could not afford to be giving on this day. But not having was never a reason for not giving. Chef Gary did not give to be seen giving, he gave because it was the right thing to do and he believed that God would help him to continue to give. So life could have been one of extravagant living for Chef Gary, but instead he lived a life of exceptional giving!

Start at Home

Gary was a big supporter of the African American Community. He personally hosted multiple events for the Heal the Hood Foundation. Over the years and over many lunches, Gary talked about the importance of the African American Community working together as a group instead of pulling each other down. This isn’t a thought that Gary just talked about, his everyday was devoted to lifting up others in his community and being a role model was important. The Gary view of being a role model was a sincere role of just living the best life you could and allowing that example to lift others. He did not wake up in the morning with an attitude of “I want people to look at me”. Instead he simply lived a life worth looking at.

Your Brothers & Sisters Come in all Colors

Gary‘s support of the African American Community did not come at the expense of any other community. There was not a racial divide with Chef Gary, Hayden Parsons a local white boxer and community supporter refers to Chef Gary as Uncle Gary. Why? Because Gary loved everyone, he wanted to help everyone and it did not matter your race, religion, or community standing. For the Chef, sharing a great meal with a smile, an exchange of ideas and a few belly laughs was an inherent right for all of us! We are all brothers and sisters. This is how he wanted everyone to see the world.

You have to Eat

One lesson Chef Gary shared was that you have to take care of yourself. He was always asking how Sky was doing? If you followed him on Facebook, you could see that he wanted to best for his grand kids and wanted to leave them with something great. He wanted me to do the same for Sky. He also wanted this for the families he served. Gary knew that I under charged for services. He knew that I let clients not pay at times if they were struggling. But he would say, Jerome you got to Eat. He was trying to tell me that if I didn’t take care of myself, I wouldn’t be able to take care of others. I think he was passionate about this with me because he had first-hand experience giving to others and helping others while putting his needs on the back burner. I haven’t completely learned this lesson yet, and I am not sure that Chef Gary ever did either.

Live a Life Worth Sharing

A friend of mine said something powerful at his grandfather‘s funeral. He said that the greatest lesson from his grandfather‘s life was that he died empty, because he accomplished everything he wanted, with no regrets. I think that, along with leaving a legacy, would be the greatest sign of success.

936 Florida Street Memphis, Tennessee 38106
Krewe Of DeJavu, and Executive Chef Gary WIlliams, bring you Culture of New Orleans. Stop by Memphis for Creole, Soulfood Vegetarian & Vegan.


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Marvin Sapp

“It was 12:31 at night and something woke me up. I grabbed my phone like I always do and there was a message on Facebook from Kelly Price with a picture of Chef Gary. I didn’t know how to process it. I sat up and read it again. I thought, I am not reading this correctly. Once It was clear what was being said, I still thought there was something incorrect. But within minutes, I could see that this was not an error. Chef Gary Williams had died. This was a shock to my system. I talk to Gary all the time. I see him at all the big events helping the community. We had just interviewed him a couple weeks ago. But then I remembered this scripture from the bible.”

“Because time and unforeseen occurrence befall them all.”
Ecclesiastes 9:11.

Chef Gary‘s life was never going to be finished. There was never going to be a day where he was done helping others. Why? Because there was no end to the goodness and the willingness to help others. His heart just was not made with limits on love, giving, support, and joy. So death may have taken him, but his legacy will always be here. Chef Gary lived a life worth sharing. Take a look across Facebook and Instagram and you will see an out pouring of support from people who’s lives have been touched by this great man. In death, Chef Gary has reminded me to live a life worth sharing. We can’t see what will happen after we are gone. So live your greatness today!

Ecclesiastes 3: 20 – 23.

All are going to the same place. They all come from the dust, and they all are returning to the dust. 21 Who really knows whether the spirit of humans ascends upward, and whether the spirit of animals descends down to the earth? 22 And I saw that there is nothing better than for a man to find enjoyment in his work, because that is his reward; for who can enable him to see what will happen after he is gone?

A Message to His Family

The pain of your loss will not soon fade. The loss of Gary as a husband, a father, a grand father, and as a friend is a great loss. He leaves a void that simply can’t be filled. So I encourage you to embrace his example. Love life everyday, find your greatness and share it with the world, laugh everyday, smile everyday, cheer on the saints, see others for who they are capable of being and not as they appear today, give to others, love everyone, and most of all never forget all those special moments you shared with Gary. I want to leave one last thought with you. My mother died of Cancer, she hated that she could not do the things she once did. So I read this verse to her many times. It was a reminder that God never forgets the greatness of your works. Chef Gary was an amazing man who gave when he didn’t have it to give. That is the man that God remembers. I hope that is how you will remember him also!

Hebrews 6:10 King James Version:

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

S. Thornton

Always helping others, always ready to donate his time, always a friend to everyone! We will miss you next year at MMIM! One of a kind! #ChefGary

M. Elmore

Met him in the airport before he opened DeJaVu. New Orleans connected. Wonderful man. Shared what he had with others. He will be missed. #ChefGary

D. Thompson

Always smiling, such a wonderful man! #ChefGary

D. Bailey

Gonna miss that Positive Energy#ChefGary

E. Allen

You will be missed #ChefGary

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