Jacob Hirschfelt of Depew, a retired executive chef who began his career at the Statler Hotel, died Thursday in the Center for Hospice & Palliative Care, Cheektowaga, after a brief illness. He was 77.
Born in Akron, Ohio, he graduated from St. Bernard's High School in Akron and started cooking in the Navy. He served aboard the USS Hollister during the Korean War.
Returning from service, he married Joyce O'Brien, a WAVE from Buffalo. After working briefly at the Chevrolet plant, he landed a position in the kitchen at the Statler and worked there throughout the 1960s.
Mr. Hirschfelt went on to become the executive chef for the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, the Grand Hyatt in Atlanta and other leading hotels across the country.
His son Jeffrey said his management style was the key to his success. "He always took care of his people," he noted.
In retirement, he settled in Orlando, Fla., where he taught cooking at a high school and a trade school. He also opened a chefs club at his church in Orlando and taught senior citizens how to reduce their big family recipes to serve one or two people.
He returned to the Buffalo area about five years ago to be closer to his children and cooked for them and their families frequently. His son said that his last major culinary effort was for an October meeting of the group Men Who Cook in the Statler.
"He made one of his famous dishes -- potato surprise," his son recalled.
Surviving, in addition to his son Jeffrey, are two other sons, Jacob M. and Dennis; two daughters, Margaret Nerber and Susan Peden; and a sister, Mary Berg.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at noon Saturday in Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 91 Dakota Ave.