Metro Detroit’s food community grieved over the weekend after receiving the news that widely respected chef Jason Osburn died Saturday, February 8, from a heart attack. He was just 45 years old.
Otus Supply in Ferndale, where the Osburn had headed the kitchen for the past year, announced the news in a Facebook post. “Not only a brilliant and ever-curious culinary mind, Chef was always eager to listen, teach and share,” the restaurant wrote. “His wit, camaraderie and sense of community will undoubtedly be his lasting legacy.”
Osburn had a fascination with fermentation, pickling, whole-animal butchery, and charcuterie, which he brought to the public through his side business, Felony Provisions, alongside partner Rece Hogerheide. The pair hosted butchershop classes and pop-ups as well as catering for events under the name. They hoped to eventually transform it into a restaurant.
Osburn joined Otus Supply last year, replacing chef Nick Rodgers. Osburn was dedicated to maintaining staff culture, mentoring young employees, and staying true to the vision of local, scratch-made food in the kitchen. Prior to Otus Supply, Osburn worked in various kitchens including 1 Under Sports Bar in Livonia, Axle Brewing Co., and Gold Cash Gold where he worked as sous chef under chef Brendon Edwards. Osburn also founded and wrote for MiCraftBeerCulture. When he wasn’t showing off his latest culinary creations, he was often bragging about the two daughters, Emily and Olivia, whom he was incredibly proud of.
Osburn’s was extremely active in local online food communities. Where the internet sometimes fosters negativity, he was a positive, collaborative force. His wide-reaching influence on the restaurant industry was evident over the weekend as chefs, kitchen staff, and restaurants across the region reached out with their condolences and reflections on his life.
“Jason Osburn and I worked at Gold Cash Gold upon opening. He loved his work and we chatted all morning as we prepped for the night. I’m sure he would agree that kitchens bring people together. We would talk about food and our aggravations with others work, the highs and lows of our lives, pros and cons of just about everything,” chef Brendon Edwards wrote in a tribute on Saturday. “The things he cared for he did so without abandon. And as much as we all knew he loved food and beverage, he revered his daughters. I hope they know how much he always talked about them, always with a smile or bit of a chuckle and a glowing air of pride.”
“Jason Osburn was an incredible mentor, teacher, friend and small business owner,” Standard Bistro & Larder chef Allie Lyttle wrote. “He was a master with charcuterie and fermentation. He was always willing to lend a hand or an ear. He loved his two daughters so fiercely.”
“If you cared about meat, or people, or food then you probably know the huge influence this man had,” Marrow wrote on Facebook. “He was deeply invested in the lives of those who surrounded him. He was an educator, a mentor, a friend, and a pioneer. The loss of his mind and passion in the culinary community of Detroit (and beyond) is immeasurable.”
On Saturday evening, after taking off the morning to give staff time to grapple with the news, Otus Supply reopened with a commemorative menu dedicated to Osburn’s work at the restaurant. Owner Thom Bloom tells Eater the staff is feeling the pain of Osburn’s loss in the restaurant. A grief counselor will be brought in this week and more commemorations for Osburn will be organized in the coming days.
Viewings for Jason Osburn will be held at Neely Turowski Funeral Home at 45100 Warren Rd. in Canton from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, February 12 and 10 a.m. with a service at 11 a.m. on Thursday, February 13.
Update: This story has been updated with additional information from Thom Bloom.
• Jason Eric Osburn Obituary [Official]