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National Restaurant Association - Industry mourns loss of chef Homaro Cantu

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Industry mourns loss of chef Homaro Cantu

The restaurant industry is mourning the loss of renowned chef Homaro “Omar” Cantu, who died April 14.

“We are extremely saddened to hear of Chef Cantu’s passing,” said Dawn Sweeney, CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “He was a good friend to our industry and the Association and will be greatly missed. His support for our Educational Foundation’s ProStart program helped inspire numerous young people to pursue careers in our industry.”

Cantu, the 38-year-old chef-owner of Michelin-star-rated Moto restaurant in Chicago, was known for both his artistry and ability to marry science and technology with fine dining. He got his start working in the kitchen with famed chef Charlie Trotter, who died in 2013.

Through his involvement with the Trotter Project, an alumni-driven initiative to educate and inspire culinary students, Cantu mentored many youths in the NRAEF’s ProStart Initiative. He also recently served as a judge for Illinois’ state competition.

“Omar had such a big heart,” said chef Michael Taus, Cantu’s friend and another Charlie Trotter protégé. “He was so cutting edge and generous. He tried to change the world and help young aspiring chefs experience the things they hadn’t yet. He worked so hard with ProStart so he could get some of those kids into his kitchen and help change their lives and career paths.”

Cantu is survived by his wife, Katie, and two daughters. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any donations be made to the Cantu Children’s Trust, 1555 Sherman Ave., Box 177, Evanston, Ill., 60201.

Pictured top right: Not only was Cantu was a strong supporter of the NRAEF's ProStart competition, he also participated in several culinary showcases at the annual NRA Show.

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