Chef Extraordinaire Bill Smith

For several years, our wonderful and generous publishers, Keela Johnson and Robin Bralley, hosted their magazine staffers to a fabulous dinner at Fabian’s Restaurant in appreciation of their work throughout the year. Each February, Rosey’s Review highlighted the amazing meal prepared by the incomparable chef, Bill Smith.

This year’s article will not expound on the incredible food or the camaraderie because our entire community lost not only a remarkable chef, but a dear friend when Bill suddenly passed away last June.

If you were ever lucky enough to dine at Fabian’s, then you know what a very special place it was. Bill’s creativeness and expertise were evident in every dish that came out of his kitchen. Teaming up with his wife Diana and loyal staff, dining at Fabian’s was always a wonderful experience.

Loving the concept of the restaurant – one nightly seating serving five courses – Bill took over Fabian’s when Chef Fabian Botta moved to the coast. Bill had worked with Botta for a number of years and prepared a number of the recipes for which the restaurant was known, while adding his own dishes that quickly became favorites as well. According to his wife, Bill was a true chef, making his own recipes and rarely writing anything down, unfortunately for all of us. At the beginning of each seating, Chef Smith came out of the kitchen to entice us with the evening’s menu. You were first told about the appetizer, followed by soup and salad, and then you had to make the difficult choice between the five or more entrees being offered, and the choice among three or more desserts. These were never easy decisions, but ones you could never go wrong in making.

Many did not know of Bill’s painful struggle with rheumatoid arthritis and the toll it took on his body. He was blessed and cursed with a strong work ethic, thereby denying himself the proper time away from his passion to rest. He truly loved his profession. It didn’t matter how many exhausting hours he had already put in or how much pain he was in, Bill would push through, always with an infectious smile and a laugh. Often he would notice another tenant in the building working late hours and bring food to them as a kindness. Words used to describe Bill by those who knew him were always adjectives in the “kind, generous, loving and caring” vein. Food was his life, and sharing it was his mission.

“We loved having our team dinners at Fabian’s,” said Keela Johnson, publisher of Forsyth Woman. “Bill’s personal touch of coming out to greet our team added a special touch that is absent from most typical dining experiences. His explanation of the meals he was preparing was something that our team looked forward to; it made us feel like we were being cooked for by a friend.”

“Bill was a man of great talents but a humble spirit,” added Robin Bralley, publisher of Forsyth Family. “After our meal was complete, he would come out with a shy smile to see if we had enjoyed it. And ‘enjoy’ was never a truly adequate word. Bill’s graciousness added an element of charm to a truly delightful dining experience.”

“While I didn’t know Bill well, I was always very impressed with his hospitality and, of course, his culinary talents were second to none!” said Denise Heidel, project manager for Forsyth Woman and Forsyth Family. “He was kind, gracious and always eager to accommodate specific dinner requests. I think he saw those moments as a personal challenge and was always determined to exceed the expectations of his dining audience.”

Thank you, Bill Smith, for sharing your extreme talent with us. You are truly missed!