GR chef’s legacy lives on through his cookbook

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Maple candied bacon. Peruvian fish soup. Cucumber sandwich.

To most, they’re recipes in a cookbook.

To Edward Strain, the creations are his life’s work, and one of his greatest loves.

“Cooking was his first love,” said his wife, D. Marie Strain.

Ed Strain pleased the palates of diners at places like the Amway Grand, Charley’s Crab and other area restaurants for years.

Cooking wasn’t just a job for Strain — it was his passion.

Even in what was supposed to be retirement, Ed still found purpose in the kitchen by creating dietary meals for senior citizens and volunteering to cook for the homeless.

But three and a half years ago, Ed found out he had cancer.

“He did the chemo for about five months and decided that he didn’t want to spend his life sick and strapped to tubes. So there enters hospice,” D. Marie said.

And so began another chapter — the last in Ed’s life.

But not of his life’s work. 

“I think it’s a good reminder to people that we all have a masterpiece within us,” said Elise Hilton, one of the Faith Hospice volunteers who helped Ed towards the end.

For Ed Strain, that masterpiece was served on a plate.

His dying wish was to share his favorite recipes with loved ones.

Day after day, Ed and Elise went through his vast recipe collection.

“All of us want to know that our spirit carries on after we die. This cookbook is a really tangible way of seeing how Ed lived his life, and how he chose to die,” Hilton said.

It wasn’t easy for Ed.

As the end drew near, the fog from medications to make him comfortable sometimes clouded his mind.

“But he got centered and focused on that book because it was his lifelong dream,” D Marie said.

Two days before he died, Ed was able to see the final draft of the cookbook.

“We all were praying that there would be enough time to get it done. They did a miraculous job, completing that task,” D. Marie said.

With the book complete, D. Marie is giving out the book to family, friends and others whose lives were touched by her husband’s love for food.

And that gives her comfort.

“Knowing that this was something that he could pass on to his friends — a gift, from him to them,” D. Marie said.

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