Cover photo for Jimella Lee Lucas's Obituary
Jimella Lee Lucas Profile Photo
1943 Jimella 2013

Jimella Lee Lucas

December 2, 1943 — November 30, 2013

A great chef, a great friend, a great community leader December 2,1943 - November 30, 2013 Born in Grants Pass, Oregon to Eileen (McCorkle) Todaro and Frank Todaro. Jimella Lucas was, above all, a complex human being. Yes, she was an award winning, respected chef and a nationally recognized pioneer of Northwest Regional Cuisine, but the sphere of her life extended much further. Known for her drive and dedication to perfection she applied these qualities as a passionate supporter of her own community. She cared for the citizens of the peninsula, marking their life events with delicious food and memorable celebrations. I could probably fill pages if I listed those she quietly helped with healing food in time of stress, financial support of business and personal ventures and the generous sharing of her professional knowledge. (Many times at The Ark a customer would get the unforgettable invitation to cook their meal on the line with Jimella.) She had a special place in her heart for children and elders and delighted in showing them the spiritual sides of life and food. She started "Kids Feeding Kids" in the local school, where young children harvested, cooked and then served local food and shellfish. She often brought special foods to the elders to comfort them in their later years. She was a lover of all animals. Many of the feral cats living under The Ark found a home with her and the others were fed and often neutered at her expense. She was the finder of lost dogs. She took spiritual counsel from the wildlife that shared her beloved land and relished the memory of seeing two fawns born close to her viewing spot from her dining room table. (Two does came and stayed nearby for several days after she died.) Jimella respected the teachings and wisdom of indigenous cultures and incorporated them into her daily practice. She made several drums and had collections of feathers, bones and sturgeon scutes that were part of her connection to her beloved Mother Earth. She was passionate about sustainability, composting, and economy of resources before it was the norm. She and I received Washington State's first award given to a restaurant for environmental practices. Our herbs and edible flowers in the Ark garden thrived from composted treasures of prep and plate. Jimella was willing to "pick up a mop" throughout her career in the food industry. She was a hard worker all her life and never was above doing any task in our restaurants. She expected the same commitment from our staff. That commitment would earn her respect. Jimella's passion for supporting community resources was rich and varied. We did countless benefits over the years for everything from Camp Victory for the healing of childhood sexual abuse to the Rockefeller Center in New York City for Meals on Wheels. Family and friends shared holiday traditions around her table and there was always room for the one more guest I would invariably invite. I have seen her filet thousands of fish over the 45 years I have known her and right to the end she would lovingly stroke the silver skin of a fresh salmon and the coral flesh that she would expertly reveal with her filet knife. No one could match her sauces, which had just the right marriage of heat and timing to make the ingredients dance in your mouth. How many young cooks she taught to not be afraid of the flame! She inspired, she created, she instructed and she nurtured. She did what we all ultimately hope to dolive a delicious life and leave this world a better place. With deep respect from The Big Swede to The Little Italian Nanci Sofia Main "Let me draw from the river of my own deep wisdom and strong character to benefit my own magnificent being, and all people and things I touch." Jimella Lucas ============================================================= The Footprints of Jimella Lucas's Life -Raised in Roseburg and Portland. -Started at $.75 an hour at Louie Menduni's Produce in Portland while still in high school. (She accurately packed the orders as fast as they came in. It was a fastidious job filling orders for the chefs. This was something that enhanced her lifelong relationships with purveyors and fishermen as they learned she would only take the best.) -She graduated from high school in 1962 and her first kitchen job was at the Portland Aero Club, a private working men's club, as a pot washer. - Her aptitude for the kitchen was quickly noticed and she got the opportunity to be classically trained in a practical apprenticeship by a European Chef, Al Kuester, at Waverly Country Club. -Worked in several Portland restaurants including Herman DeVaults in the Haviland Hotel, The Key, and The Washington Hotel. -Part owner of commercial fishing boat out of Chinook Washington for four years. Gained working knowledge of catching and caring for all fish from coast of California to Alaska. Would cook at Red's Restaurant in Ilwaco during off-season. - In 1971 worked as chef at The Ark for Frank Glenn not realizing she would someday own it. -First female chef at Jake's Famous Crawfish in Portland, Oregon, where her partnership began with Nanci Main, who came into the operation as Sous-chef. -Consulted with restaurants in Seattle, Portland and California. -Started Les Dames, a small catering business, with Nanci. -In 1981 she and Nanci started the Shelburne Restaurant. They gained national recognition from James Beard and local newspapers and put the community on the culinary map. - Bought The Ark from Frank Glenn in 1982 and owned it for 22 years. -Wrote four award winning Northwest Regional Cookbooks. -Countless television, radio and personal appearances. -Countless cooking classes. -Cooked for President Bill Clinton and did several private dinners for then governor, Booth Gardner. -Featured in Newsweek, New York Times, Gourmet and many other major publications. -Started Northwest Garlic Festival. -Started Jimella and Nanci's Market Café in 2006 as a fish market where, due to popular demand, it quickly morphed into a restaurant and bar. -Even through her illness she continued to model new ways of being in community by having a life celebration of 250 people and giving the friends in her life the chance to visit and share with her daily. -Passed gently into the morning light with friends by her side on November 30, 2013 after a long encounter with cancer. ================================================== COMMUNITY MEMORIAL SERVICE SUNDAY, DECEMBER 15, 11-2 POTLUCK (BRING FOOD IF YOU LIKE) CHINOOK, WASHINGTON AT THE OLD CHINOOK SCHOOL DONATIONS CAN BE SENT TO: CHEF JIMELLA LUCAS CULINARY SCHOLARSHIP FUND ROTARY CLUB BOX 752 OCEAN PARK, WA. 98640

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

11:00am - 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

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