January 27, 2022

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Foodies welcome

Mudgie’s owner, Matt Prentice among deaths in local restaurants, food

The food and restaurant industry mourned this year the losses of notable souls who contributed as much to the community as they did their own businesses.

Those who died include the founder of a salsa company, a restaurant reviewer, and restaurant owners. Here’s a list of some of those who passed away in 2021.

More:A look back at who Michigan lost in 2021

Garden Fresh Gourmet co-founder

Jack Aronson died at 68 in August after battling cancer. Aronson founded Garden Fresh Gourmet in Ferndale along with his wife, Annette.

He was often described as having a heart of gold larger than his more than 6-foot frame. Aronson was known to be a leader in the community, charitable and always having an infectiously positive attitude. Aronson also was active in the community and listed as a trustee for the Metro Detroit Youth Clubs (formerly The Boys & Girls Clubs of Oakland & Macomb counties).

The couple began making fresh salsa in Ferndale and grew the brand to become the country’s No. 1 fresh salsa. The Aronsons later sold the company to Campbell Soup for $231 million in 2015.

Rafic Baydoun, 79, died on Saturday, Jan. 23. Baydoun was known in the community for his famous falafel and his heart of gold.

Falafel expert

This Dearborn restaurateur was described as the “fairy godfather of falafel.” Rafic Baydoun died in January after battling COVID-19. He was 79.

Dearborn locals knew Baydoun for being a genuinely kind person, especially when greeting customers at his son’s restaurant, Rafic’s Falafel. 

Born in Bint Jbeil, Lebanon, Baydoun learned and perfected his famous falafel as a teenager. It was in Lebanon that his love for hospitality and the restaurant industry was fostered, his daughter-in-law, Abeir Baydoun, 40, told the Free Press.