Marc gave me the bad news last night, and it didn’t seem real until today. On some level, it still doesn’t. Maybe it’s because Cliff and I hadn’t seen each other in person for years, but the idea of him being gone is hard to accept.
He was one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met, and he made brilliance look effortless. (The guy won a James Beard award and he wasn’t even a food writer.) I used to read up on oddball news just so I’d have something clever to talk about with him in the work kitchen. He didn’t need to be impressed to like a person, but I wanted to impress him anyway; I looked up to him. He was always telling good stories, pulling out random fascinating facts, and making everyone howl with laughter. He could pull out a wry quip like nobody else, but he beamed with joy when talking about his daughter Gladys, which is what I’ll remember most about him.
Hank wrote a better remembrance than I can, as did the Reader. Some examples of his writing are here. I imagine Cliff, if he heard us talking about him, would crack wise and tell us to cut the sentimental crap. So I will, while missing him.