You are here
Home > News > In Memory of Jesse the Chef

In Memory of Jesse the Chef

Here is my Tuesday eulogy for my friend. To honor his memory I’m sharing it here with the larger community. You should keep his loved ones in your prayers during this very difficult time.

Our brother Jesse was unexpectedly killed in the early hours of November 15, 2015. Woodie (or Jesse the chef) was affectionately known. He was a beloved brother and son, an enviable boyfriend, successful entrepreneur, and, most importantly, a friend to many. His loss will always be felt. He was just 29 years old.

It’s hard to summarize someone as complex as Jesse. Although most of his fame was for his extraordinary skills as an internet chef or the larger-than life personality, people who got to know him intimately knew that Jesse was more than just great food and banter. Dude was also an avid nerd. Y’all know about the Pokémon tattoos, right? He’d dive down whatever weirdo rabbit hole with me, and somehow, he made even those cool. Dude is a presence and has the confidence and humility necessary to take his ideas to new heights and get everyone to agree.

Raised in Memphis – on the South side with his Mom but getting game from his dad on the North side, he was residing more recently in Los Angeles. Jesse is proof of how you can bring the child out of the south but your home will never leave you. He loved his home. It was evident in his energy and in his voice. Memphis was a place where we heard about everything. I can still hear him in my head saying ‘You know where he’s from, my boy?’ He played that ‘Memphis, memphis, memphis’ clip maybe 6,000 times. Sure he was doing what he needed to out West, but he celebrated where he was from every chance he got – and he made you want to go there too. His stories about his travels back home were better than Vegas, and I am sure I speak on behalf of all his followers. I’m heartbroken that he wasn’t here to see us congregate for him in his home town.

But in LA – LA’s not always the friendliest place, but somehow he made it his home. It felt like a home for us all, transplants who are trying to make it work. He welcomed us in in a way I haven’t felt often in my life, let alone in the city. He cared. He supported. His people were his greatest support. He’d raise hell for us…

And Maiya – their relationship was a model for us all. You don’t expect much to last in today’s world, but we were all sure they would. They were unbreakable. They were always inseparable. It was like you were watching a live action Rom Com – they we’re ALWAYS laughing.

And his parties – those were legendary. A who’s who of ballers from across the art, music and cannabis landscape would pull up to his house not just for a plate, but for the energy. It’s cool to be in the company of this magnetic magnet. 

To be honest, all I wanted was to spend time at his place. There was no one I knew that had the same level of character as me. I made many lifelong friendships with him, which has helped me to have a better understanding and appreciation for my fellow human beings. He’s the reason I started talking to Fidel, and Metro. His coverage was almost like having a cheat sheet. Even more, the times when we would simply watch what popped up in YouTube’s living room were far more meaningful than our normal interactions with friends. Maiya and him created a warm, welcoming atmosphere that was unlike anything I had ever seen. Every time you came by, it was like going home. You laughed. The commentary. These conspiracy theories. Amazing weed. The incredible amount of weed. This was a rule that no one could break. This was an extraordinary combination of magic and science that hooked everyone who had the opportunity to see it. I know I speak for many of his friends when I say that I feel blessed I got to exist in his presence, and my heart breaks not only for our loss, but for all those that won’t get to experience it. So many people have reached out the last week to say they wished they got to know him, people who I’d told about him, and random strangers who watched him online, and honestly so do I. It was difficult not to fall in love with him.

Jesse was the exception. Jesse was a quantifier of the strange and celebrated his love. His ability to bring people together and create a lifestyle that is admired by all was a gift. We talked about hustling and how to make it – but the truth was, he had. Jesse was the one. Yes he was an inspiration for so many that didn’t actually know him, but also for those truly close to him. He created his own wave and rode it with a confidence we don’t often see from even the greatest of showmen. He made Weed & Wagyu a lifestyle we all wanted to be a part of. Even some kid like me, who was fine just eating McDonald’s, was all of a sudden trying to play high end, and wearing Dior, because of Jesse. It was crazy.

His Parents, I wish you could see the light in your son’s eyes. While the internet can be a great tool, it is not enough to show you how real love really was. He was a good guy everywhere. He was always admired by everyone. He would always talk about you, and I can still remember his excitement when his dad came out. He was proud to be your son. Your son made him so proud.

Maiya, he loved and cherished you more than any other girl. It is so clear that you two were soulmates – you were the dream for those of us who haven’t found our person. We had faith in you. You are my strength and our faith.

It is selfish of me to be devastated. I never expected to lose my friend – we had so much left to do. There was so much he had to offer. He and I talked about doing an exhibition together. But my anxiety kept me from speaking up. I didn’t think I mattered, he was the guy. However, he was willing to share it with me and I did not push through. He was due to be here the weekend after he died. But I was tired, so I said ‘next time’. It was obvious that there would be one. A next time… You always think you’re going to have more time. But let me tell you, you don’t always. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, sometimes it’s just over. And I know I speak for many of us when I say it breaks my heart that I’ll never get to see my friend again. You can call him. You can also text him. You can also get roasted in his DMs if I do something wrong. He may think it’s Lemon Cherry Gelato. He should know how much I love him.

The last conversation we had will be a part of my memory. To the last night we saw each other, at the Montalban in Hollywood, seeing ourselves on the big screen for Fidel’s premiere. That was some bucket list shit, but it wasn’t supposed to be the last. Although I only scratched the surface, I am grateful for what my friend shared. This will go with me. As I am sure the rest will, I’ll be carrying him.

Now, I don’t know what it is yet, but I know we have to do something down here [in Memphis], for Jesse and Memphis – a real celebration, not a mourning party, because it’s what he would have wanted. Jesse’s signature act was to put on an event for Memphis. 

Maiya is his greatest love and I am sure we should support her in any way we can. He was just as attached to her as she was to him. 

And I think we all need to start cooking more, because it’s what he loved doing, and it will bring us closer to him – especially those of us who are terrible at it, if only so that we’ll hear that deep little chuckle over our shoulder from the master who we all know could make it way better than we were. It would have been a great laugh for him to watch us attempt it. But most importantly because we all need to keep Jesse’s vision, Weed & Wagyu alive – however that works for you, I won’t judge if it’s American Beef. 

And finally, we’ve got to make sure we tell everyone we love that we love them as often as possible. Jesse excelled at giving flowers. You never know when it’s going to be the last time. 

In Jesse’s honor, no more ‘next time’s.

I love you man, I’ll see you soon. Weed & Wagyu forever.