Spice of Life: Madison connection will remain in my heart

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Last January I wrote a column about Mark Madison’s return from kitchen industry purgatory after several years of hard knocks.

At that time he had been hired by Chastain’s on Ryan Street, and I was excited about the unlimited culinary and professional possibilities that awaited the marriage between Madison and restaurateur Lee Chastain.

Something happened shortly thereafter, and Madison’s tenure at the restaurant was short-lived. I heard things about Madison’s life from people in the food industry and from others around town.

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I chose not to give any of those communications any credence — not because I didn’t want to believe the sad story I heard, but because I was pulling for Madison to succeed.

This past Sunday I opened the newspaper and shed a tear when I saw Madison in the obituaries.

I called my “big brother” Keith Capdeville, who was tending to his own mother in a New Orleans hospital.

“Dude, guess who died?” I said.

“Who?” he replied.

“Mark. I just read it in the newspaper, man. The obit says he died Thursday evening in his home,” I said.

Cap — as he is known to friends, family and workmates — was understandably taken aback.

First and foremost, I want to send personal condolences to Madison’s family, especially his parents, John and Beverly Madison.

Second, I want you to know that Madison’s laugh, smile and love of the kitchen are what I personally will keep in my heart.

This was a guy that I connected with on a friendly and cooking level from the first time Cap and I ordered greens, cornbread, fried catfish and the blue margarita and talked with Madison years ago when his family owned Mr. D’s On the Bayou.

Madison prepared the margarita that became a staple anytime either Cap or myself was at Mr. D’s.

Prior to writing about him earlier this year, I met Madison outside of Albertsons.

He looked tired, concerned and like life was getting the best of him. Our conversation lasted about 20 minutes, during most of which I just listened.

We talked about mutual associates and his family’s restaurant. Madison said he was looking for work and asked if I knew any restaurants that were hiring.

He also gave me the greens recipe. I did not write it down. Trying to cook the greens myself would be pointless because the finished product would never taste like Madison’s.

Madison and I hugged the last time we saw each other at Chastain’s. I am grateful for that.