OBITUARY: Owner of ‘Chef Larry’s Café’ in Titusville, Larry Berkowitz, Passes Away
By Maria Sonnenberg // June 18, 2020
His passing leaves a huge void in the North Brevard dining scene
BREVARD COUNTY • TITUSVILLE, FLORIDA – Life was going well for Chef Larry Berkowitz, owner of Chef Larry’s Café, a popular Titusville eatery with a legion of devoted fans.
Good friend Judge John Griesbaum had married Larry and his lady, Louise, on June 16. The couple had redecorated their digs by the sixth green at La Cita Country Club and had recently adopted a second fur baby.
He was on top of his game in golf.
“He played his best golf game ever on Monday,” said Louise.
“He looked fabulous and was the happiest he had ever been.”
On Tuesday morning, June 16, Larry was driving Louise to the store in his immaculate Mustang when he suddenly lost consciousness.
“I think he died in the Mustang, before the paramedics even arrived,” said Louise.
“It was instantaneous.”
His passing leaves a huge void in the North Brevard dining scene, for Larry’s cooking was as unique as the man himself. Everybody knew the quirky chef who arrived in town 11 years ago to transform a tiny, faded cottage on South Washington St. into a lively restaurant that served good food at fair prices.
“We opened the café with the goal of offering food that is affordable and tastes good,” he said years ago.
He succeeded on both counts, for Chef Larry’s, never snooty or overpriced, excelled with a menu that ran the gamut from comfort to eclectic.
Larry had just posted the menu for this weekend, which included crispy chicken with apricot pear sauce and a duet of pork tenderloin. He would not live to serve the meals. Chef Larry’s Café is temporarily closed as Louise considers the next chapter in her life. Larry was such a huge part of the establishment and the community.
“It was his personality that made that restaurant,” said Louise.
Sheriff Wayne Ivey, a good friend of the couple, rushed to the hospital when he heard of Larry’s death. It was Ivey who accompanied Louise to see her husband for one last time.
“I got there as quickly as I could,” said Ivey, who was one of the celebrity chefs Larry would invite to cook in his kitchen.
A great supporter of first responders, Chef Larry delighted in taking his kitchen on the road to cook for firefighters and policemen.
“He was an amazing supporter of law enforcement,” said Ivey.
One of Larry’s greatest treasures, proudly displayed on the wall of the café, was the bulletproof vest that sported the many patches police departments had given him in gratitude for his support.
Sheriff Ivey remembers fondly being in the kitchen with Larry.
“He was an incredible chef,” he said.
“Being in the kitchen and watching him do what he did so well was amazing.”
ABOVE VIDEO: In celebration of Larry’s life, Sheriff Ivey has posted the special “Cooking with Justice” episode he filmed at Chef Larry’s Café.
In celebration of Larry’s life, Sheriff Ivey has posted the special “Cooking with Justice” episode he filmed at Chef Larry’s Café.
Unlike some restaurateurs, Larry was glad to help the competition, always plugging new or unique restaurants that appeared in town. He loved being a chef and had been one for most of his life, owning restaurants in California and Illinois. For years, he and his first wife, Gwen, hosted Radio Grill, a radio show that invited community leaders to cook on air with Larry.
Larry smiled often, because he was happy with his career choice.
“He always told me that he wasn’t in the restaurant business for the money,” said Louise.
“He was in it because he loved it.”
A celebration of the life of Chef Larry Berkowitz is planned, but arrangements are pending.
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