Back in the early ’90s, when AOL ruled the world as Google does today, I ran their Food & Drink Network. Each of our sections, was managed by a team of volunteers I called Mavens. Wine (Phil Ward), winemaking (Dr. Richard Peterson), spirits (Ted Haigh), beer (Marty Nachel and Randy Mosher), cigars (Alan Dikty), cooking (Meathead), restaurants (Ron Zimmerman), and dining (Stuart Miller).
Stuart, a.k.a. CapnCooks, was an erudite, witty, and insightful fellow, he quenched the flame wars between advocates of nouvelle cuisine vs. classic French cuisine, deep dish vs. thin crust, or Pat’s vs. Geno’s cheesesteak with his quips and wisdom. He always had tips on the hottest new restaurants. He was the living definition of bon vivant.
Since then, from his home in Bethesda, MD, he distinguished himself in many ways, among them a festival for Cooks with Books in DC and various other celebrations of the good life.
Stuart died on 2/24/2010, at 65, with his wonderful wife Helen Hopkins and his family by his side.
The culinary world is a little undernourished after his passing. The picture here is Stuart and Helen courtesy of Ron Zimmerman, owner of the great Herbfarm Restaurant near Seattle (his diary on our AOL site was probably the world’s first blog).
Stuart and I kept in touch after AOL took over the Food & Drink Network for itself in the late ’90s. He often offered critiques and cracks about my articles. He and Helen and I had dinner this fall in Chicago and I laughed so hard I had trouble swallowing at times. Among his favorite quotes on his Facebook page is this one by Dr. Seuss “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
Last summer he sent me this. He wasn’t kidding, and his family took it seriously, too.
I, Stuart Miller, being of sound mind and body, do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by extraordinary means. Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of pinhead politicians who couldn’t pass ninth grade biology if their lives depended on it, or lawyers/doctors interested in simply running up the bills. If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to ask for at least one of the following:
- Glass of wine
- Cold Beer
- Chicken fried steak
- Cream gravy
- Mexican food
- French fries
- Ice cream
- Cup of tea
it should be presumed that I won’t ever get better. When such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my appointed person and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes, let the fat lady sing, and call it a day!
Here’s to you both, Stuart & Helen.