The first time I met Chef Werth was after he retired from A-B Tech. He picked up a job at Grove Park Inn to fill his time. I think he just enjoyed being around like-minded people who loved the world of food. I had already heard many infamous stories about this fabled man and was thrilled to finally meet him face to face. Do you know what I found?
I found a man that was enthralled with food, a smooth talker - especially to anyone willing to ask him a question about food, a man who enjoyed a joke, a man who was passionate about life. He was shorter than I had expected, but still so full of energy! He loved being the Chef that would perform culinary demonstrations in the Grove Park Inn's Great Hall as guests checked in and walked over to learn from him. The enthusiasm he brought to culinary demonstrations made it evident that not only was he a professional but he loved to teach others what he knew. This need to pass on his skills to others can be seen throughout his life.
He gave not only as the creator of the Culinary program at A-B Tech, not only as a skilled culinary teacher to the many young Chefs that came through the classes, but as a man with a mission. I think many could see what his mission was, but I doubt few of us truly could comprehend the magnificent culinary master that was in our midst. He meant different things to different people. However, whether he was considered a hard task master, a beloved Chef or anything in between; he created a personal impact on many that extends far beyond our Foodtopian Society here in Asheville.
Did Chef actually envision that one day Asheville would be considered the Foodtopian Society? Did he plan and teach and cook and develop what we have today? Maybe he did and maybe he didn't. But whether he planned it out decades ago or it came about because he came to Asheville and laid the foundation - I guess it doesn't matter. We gained much because of his life's work among us - that is worth my memory.
A friend of mine thought that the food in heaven just got better because of his moving on. That may be - our food is better because of his moving to Asheville.
Thank you Chef for being ahead of your time and giving of yourself in so many ways!