Food writer Josh Ozersky, a South Florida native who made good by writing about the pleasures of eating flesh, was found dead in a Chicago hotel on Monday Morning.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Ozersky, 47, was pronounced dead on the scene at 11:40 a.m. at the Conrad Chicago Hotel, according to the medical examiner’s office. A cause of death has not been determined, and an autopsy is scheduled for today.
According to Page Six, Ozersky was last seen at a Chicago karaoke lounge at 4 a.m., singing the Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers hit "Islands in the Stream." OpenTable's Jen Pelka posted this video on Instagram:
Josh Ozersky's last night was spent singing karaoke to Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers... it should be no surprise that he went out with a bang. I'm gutted by the sudden loss of the sweetest, funniest, most charming curmudgeon, mensch, and true friend. I was with Josh on the night he got 86'ed from @momolongplay, one of his crowning achievements, and feel lucky to have been with him on his last big night... Fly away with me to another world, and we rely on each other, ah ha. Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers would be proud. We miss you so much already.
Ozersky was born in Miami in 1967 and moved to New Jersey early in life. His writing career began at Rutgers University. After graduating, he worked at several New York publications, including the West Side Spirit, where he penned a column called "The Impoverished Gourmand." His food writing career (and obsession with animal-based proteins) took off in 2003 with the publication of his book, Meat Me in Manhattan. Ozersky was also the food critic for Newsday from 2004 to 2006.
He also wrote for Esquire magazine and penned the "Taste of America" column for Time. Ozersky was also founding editor for New York Magazine's Grub Street, for which he won a James Beard Award in 2008. Coincidentally, Ozersky was in Chicago to attend this year's James Beard ceremonies.
Ozersky's ties with Miami came full circle in February, when the food writer made a triumphant return to the Sunshine State at the 2015 South Beach Wine & Food Festival, bringing his Meatopia event to Miami Beach. Ozersky was the founder of Meatopia, dubbed "a bacchanal of pork, beef, lamb, chicken, duck, turkey, and quail" by the New York Times. Meatopia started in New York City more than a decade ago, featuring leading chefs cooking whole animals in an outdoor venue. The event expanded to London, San Antonio, and, finally, Miami Beach.
Major players in the culinary community have taken to Twitter to express their shock and grief over Ozersky's untimely passing:
Too effing soon! Jesus. RIP, Esquire's Josh Ozersky.... http://t.co/pn7XhTuw0n— Ted Allen (@ChopTedAllen) May 5, 2015
Sad to learn of Josh Ozersky's death. We often disagreed, but I loved his passion, his talent, his fearlessness. The world is smaller.— ruthreichl (@ruthreichl) May 5, 2015
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Josh was a friend, I adored him. He was brilliant, funny, kind to me, curious and a great mensch. I will miss him http://t.co/0SCG8RtUN0— Andrew Zimmern (@andrewzimmern) May 5, 2015
We will update this post with more information as we receive it.