David Lawrence Beckwith
6 July, 1953 – 17 September, 2019
David Lawrence Beckwith- chef, dancer, educator, beloved friend, brother, and uncle, passed away peacefully in his sleep surrounded by loved ones at Lutheran Memorial Hospital in Wheat Ridge, Colorado on September 17, 2019.
David was born on July 6, 1953 in Quantico, Virginia to Roger and Loretta Beckwith. He was the second eldest of eight siblings. He displayed a love of the arts at an early age, and it was no surprise that he later went on to study theater and dance, and eventually the culinary arts. He first studied at Tarkio College in Missouri where he was a member of the Mule Barn Summer Company theater productions, and then went on to achieve his B.A. in English at the University of Iowa. Later he would go on to obtain is Masters in Education at Argosy University in Denver, Colorado.
After college he moved to Chicago, Illinois where he was a company dancer with the Joel Hall Dance Company. It was also in Chicago that he kickstarted his culinary career with the famous “Lettuce Entertain You” restaurant group. On May 6, 1978, while living in Chicago, he met his partner Ric Myroth at a local Boystown hangout, the Closet. The pair quickly hit it off and the rest is history. They moved to San Francisco, California in August of 1978. It was in California that David gained wide notoriety in the culinary world and would eventually be come to known simply as “Chef DB.” Notable restaurants where he worked include MacArthur Park (1978-1983), Rio Grill in Carmel (1983-1985), Central 159 in Pacific Grove (Chef/owner 1985-1997), and Il Fornaio in Carmel (1997-2000). While working as a restaurateur and chef, he was published in many magazines and newspapers including the New York Times, Bon Appetit, and Gourmet magazine. In addition, many of his recipes were published in recipe books such as The Art of Monterey Cuisine, Flavors and Memories of America’s Hometown-Slow Food, and A Series of American Cookery. He gained recognition as the original chef at Earthbound Farms with his salad dressing recipes printed on their packaging. He collaborated with many famous chefs at the Robert Mondavi Winery Cooking School where he met Julia Child. The two chefs became friends and he even had the privilege of cooking for her on her birthday.
It was his time at Il Fornaio that brought him to Denver, Colorado where he ultimately decided to give back to the culinary arts as an educator. In Denver he was a chef at the Starkey Institute where he trained many of the butlers that go on to work for the US government. This offered him the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. where he taught at the Pentagon. One of his butlers went on to work in the service of the Vice President of the United States. David also taught at the Art Institute of Denver, and then eventually Metro State University (2014-2019), teaching such coursework as Global Cuisine, Cooking with Beer and Wine, and Food Science. His passion for food and art were evident as soon as one entered his academic office. A perfect potpie served as his computer desktop image, dozens of cookbooks lined the shelves, and every wall and cabinet was packed with sculptures, photographs and prints of perfectly prepared food. These items were an outward representation of the charismatic warmth that everyone who met David came to know as core traits of his personality.
Being a chef and educator were only two of the many facets of David’s life. He was an avid sports fan, cheering on the Colorado Rockies, Denver Broncos, and the Iowa Hawkeyes. He loved to travel, venturing to his favorite destination, Italy, numerous times. David was an animal lover, caring for many rescued pets over the years, most recently Xena, an energetic Huskie. He supported a wide variety of charities throughout his lifetime, but was most known for his role as the Chairman of the “Feast for AIDS” in Monterey for ten years, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Monterey AIDS project. In recent years he supported “We Don’t Waste” in Denver, an organization that reclaims and redistributes unused quality food to Coloradans in need.
David was preceded in death by his father (Roger), mother (Loretta), brothers (Steven and Clayton), and sister (Sue). He is survived and so very missed by his partner (Ric), siblings (Denise, Gail, Connie, and Glenn), his nieces and nephews, countless former students, and many loving friends.
- We Don't Waste
Celebration of Life
Friday, 11 October , 2019
David Lawrence Beckwith
15 May 2021
I met David when I had just graduated from CIA in NY. He had hired me for On The Park Restaurant in Carmel, Ca restaurant. Albeit, I was inexperienced, but David was always attentive and gracious. He even hosted my wedding rehearsal dinner for my wedding at Central 159 in 1992. Hearts go out to a wonderful person.😘
3 December 2020
I just found out a few minutes ago that David Beckwith died over a year ago.
We loved him and his partner Rick.
We is myself and my boyfriend and business partner of 21 years the chef and food writer Michael James. MICHAEL died in 1993 at the age of 43.
David and Chef Cindy Paulson went to work for us in the kitchen of our cooking school called The Great Chefs of France at the Robert Mondavi Winery in the Napa Valley of California. In 1976.
David was a wonderful chef and a great person.
Today I am grilling baby back ribs on the wood grill at my house in Cuernavaca , Morelos Mexico. Of course I thought about David and googled him and found out he was dead.
David made the best baby back ribs I have ever eaten.
I send my condolences to his life partner Rick and to his other family members.
RIP DAVID BECKWITH
Billy Cross Co-, Founder and Co-Director of the Great Chefs of France Cooking School at the Robert Mondavi Winery, Napa Valley , California
Meagan Spomer (mysch)
9 January 2020
I'm months late , but just found out. My heart weeps, I'm absolutely devastated. Chef Beckwith was my biggest cheerleader and mentor when I was at AIC. I ways got excited when I saw him as my instructor for whatever course. I remember being in Intro to Baking and looking up , seeing him watching the class from the window, smoking . He always motioned for me to come out. Some days we would stand in silence , watching everyone work. Others we would be like catty teens, critizing techniques . Even after I left AIC, I would message just to say hi, or pick his brain for recipe ideas. 2 of my 3 musketeers have gone. Bennett better stay put a while.
Rest easy Chef.
10 October 2019
David and I met in the fall of 1973 at the U of Iowa, during a production of Cabaret. We worked together on a number of shows including Fiddler, Hello Dolly and Carousel (both of us were dancers/chorus). We carpooled to Cedar Rapids when we student taught at two different high schools there. We worked at the Carousel Inn in Coralville - he was a waiter, I worked banquets and tended bar. I have stories. Many stories.
When I moved to Chicago in 1977, I lived with him for a month. It was not the best month of our relationship. We clashed as much as we bonded, which was true for 46 years. But no matter how angry we got with each other, we always seemed to find our way back.
David and my parents adored each other. He began wearing 3-piece suits in college because Daddy did. For the rest of my father's life - and for many years after - he insisted that Daddy was a big influence on him and how he presented himself to the world. He even invoked him in his classes.
After his mother died, David started sending flowers to my mother for birthdays, Mother's Day, Christmas. I stopped sending my mother flowers then because no matter what I sent, he sent something bigger and better. It was annoying, but typical.
Our relationship was complicated, but there was never a doubt of how close we were, a fact that Ric and my husband can confirm.
I grieve more for David than almost anyone I've ever known, except my parents (I'm sure that pleases him). There were things we wanted to do together that never happened. But I'm grateful that nothing important was left unsaid. We always told each other "I love you" at the end of phone calls. He drove me nuts and he knew it. I think he was proud of that, to be honest.
I will not be there on Friday, but I will be at the service in Carmel. It all still feels kind of surreal to me. But I feel confident that I will still carry him in my heart for the rest of my life.
(David, Daddy & me in parking lot of the Carousel. 1974)
9 October 2019
The joy of working with David Beckwith is the energy that motivates others to achieve excellence. The energy comes from within a passionate foodie that wants to share great cuisine with others.
My memories of working with David are centered on how collegial he approached the events we worked on. I was honored to hear him reflect upon our grand beer, spirits and food paired events as when Metro State "was at it's best." David always exceeded expectations, adding ice carvings that dispense a beer or a cocktail luge to action stations with flame fired salmon. He portrayed excitement and enthusiasm for creating experiences for others that are memorable.
David's hospitality spirit will remain at the School of Hospitality and carry on in the work of students as they transfer their energies and passion to their own foodie experiences.
David...rest well, the dishes are done and the kitchen is clean. Know that all the students and peers you inspired will carry on your lessons and share the love for food and all things beverage, particularly when served together with friends.
Janet Robinson Bryan
8 October 2019
I met David and Rick in 1976. Rick and I worked together at Lawrence Hall School fir Boys in Chicago. We became fast friends. I moved to California and several months later David and Rick knocked on my door and announced that they were moving in with me!! I have so many fond memories of good times with “Uncle David” and “Uncle Rick.” My family and I enjoyed many meals prepared by David and served by Rick. I am saddened to hear of his passing and pray he is resting in peace. Love you Rick.
8 October 2019
I remember it like it was yesterday. I wanted to quit. I gathered my belongings and left the classroom. Chef B stopped me in my tracks. I told him baking was not for me. I couldn't do it. His words still ring in my ears..
"I will not let you quit. Not tonight! It's day 2 for crying out loud! Give me 1 week. I will check in with you and if you still want to quit, then you can".
I didn't quit. I got an A in his class. He was so kind and patient. He believed in me when I didn't. I'll never forget him for that.
Thank you, Chef, for never giving up on me. I soared because of you; you taught me how to fly.
Rest peacefully Chef B. ♥️ Love you!
8 October 2019
John and I met Chef at Starkey Institute, one of the great learning curves of an already eventful life. He was such a wonderful teacher and friend. I knew him to be a kindred spirit immediately, foodie, theater head, and funny man, with a capacity for misbehavior. He recognized and adored John’s great service heart and capabilities, they were a joy to watch. I miss you David, have fun surfing the cosmos. ♥️♥️♥️Kristin
8 October 2019
Dave was a wonderful friend and a really great person. I miss knowing g he is in this world.
3 October 2019
David was our friend for many many years. He was with me when Chef Winter passed. Craig always called him Tink! I will never forget our trip to Montrose Colorado with Chef Meitzer. Craig David and Robert kept me laughing all weekend. We stayed in touch after I left Colorado-such a wonderful dear friend. David and Rick are my heroes now and forever. No more miles to go before you rest my friend!
22 September 2019
David was a friend, a mentor and a great person. I learned so much from him in kitchens. He always had a smile and I will always remember how he dressed outside of a chef coat. He always dressed to impress. It’s hard to think of David being gone, and will I always remember him showing me his baking skills with chef winter. Thank you for supporting my passion David and being a great friend.
21 September 2019
How is this possible?
I had the good fortune to see David in February during a visit to the U.S.
He seemed on top of the world.
My some 15 years of friendship has so many memories. But what I really loved was how we could discuss something weighty like higher education theories of assessment interjected with Julia Child recipes then some deep pressing personal matter and some how assign our favorite female characters in Shakespeare's plays... and the whole conversation would just make sense.
The other emotion and memory I am experiencing right now is how both of us went through some very difficult times those years. Whether he was helping-saving-advising me or I he it always became very gray at to who was in need and which was providing support. It was completely liquid as it would flow. He'd just know what to say me regardless and I'd expect he'd say the same.
Or maybe just "fabulous. "
As with all of us I am sure, I expect to never have such a friendship. And of course, it is simply because there will never be another David Beckwith.
"Goodnight, sweet prince....."
I will always love you and what you did for me. I wished I'd been there to do more for you.
20 September 2019
My heart is heavy with the loss of my dear friend David. He was my culinary father figure that took me under his wing when I started teaching at The Art Institute of CO in 2011. We shared may laughs, pastries and stories together. We stayed in touch after he left AIC and I would go visit him out at the house. I loved these times as he would always tell more stories, cook and share life. When work took me back west we continued to call each other regularly. In 2015, David surprised me with a visit to Seattle. I spent the weekend taking him around to all my favorite spots. He loved it, and couldn't wait to come visit again. Always the cheerleader, when I landed my current job he was one of the first people I called. A huge light has left this earth with his passing. Thank you David, for the friendship and love . I'm so thankful I got to be a part of your life and know you. Rest easy my friend. Jenifer
20 September 2019
It is with a heavy heart that I try to move forward with out David’s presence in my world. So many wonderful memories and great times with my friend. We taught together in Assignments Restaurant at the Art Institute for 3 years and remained friends and colleagues for 15 years. So so many wonderful times together both professionally and socially! Love you Chief! ❤️
20 September 2019
The world of food will never be quite the same without David Beckwith. Thank you David for teaching me so much during our time at the Rio Grill all those years ago. You will be missed ...
20 September 2019
David was a great friend and kindred spirit. We did so.much together as instructors, art collectors, and friends in generas l. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
Mary Owensby Thompson
19 September 2019
Oh, my heart! This hit me like a freight train. I knew David when we did summer stock theatre in 1973 at the Mule Barn Theatre in Tarkio, Missouri. I was assistant choreographer that summer and I shared David’s love of dance and theatre. He was such a sweet soul and he was a consummate professional. Heaven gained a beautiful angel on Tuesday. David lives on in my fond memories of him. The photo is from an old program.
19 September 2019
I met David in the 1980s and had the opportunity to work with him and call him a friend. He was a visionary in many ways, diligent, Uber-professional, and robust with one of those laughs once heard you can never forget. I always appreciated how he would find the humor in things even when the pressure was on. We chatted not long ago and he made me smile yet again. Thank you for gracing us with your presence, David. You will be missed AND your time here will be celebrated by those whom you have touched (me among them).
19 September 2019
David was my Pastry instructor and has taught me a lot. Not just about baking, but how to live life with passion, love, respect, laughter and humility. There isn't a day that goes by when I'm in the kitchen that he isn't there talking to me. "Mise en place, cake waits for no one, are you mad, those flavors will never work together, remember the 8 minute rule." We remained friends to this day and I developed a special bond and love for him that will never be broken. God truely stole a piece of heaven from Earth!
19 September 2019
David was a special, funny, warm and caring human being. I first met him right out of college. He was studying ballet, and it was his passion. I remember him unwrapping his sore feet, wincing with pain while insisting that it was worth the pain. He was such a kind, loving person who loved learning and teaching. Such a loss.