Gregory Charles Klein of Montauk and Bokeelia, Fla., an accomplished chef known for his ready smile and what his brother described as “deep-in-the-belly laugh,” died in Florida on Nov. 11 after being hit by a car. His death came only two months after he and Catherine Callan were married. He was 52.
The couple were married on Gin Beach in Montauk on Sept. 11. They had been together for 26 years. “He died on the first day of the rest of his life. Greg was the happiest he ever was,” his brother, Douglas Klein, said.
He was born in Tonawanda, N.Y., on April 20, 1952, to Donald Klein and the former Connie Romano. He went to high school in Roslyn and went on to the Culinary Institute of America in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where his flare for cooking was recognized quickly. After receiving his degree he went immediately to work at the Water Club, a restaurant on the East River in Manhattan.
“He was a young hot shot,” Doug Klein said. “One respected New York restaurateur stated that Greg was more than just a product of schooling. He knew flavors and had a deep passion for all things food. Many metro area restaurants owe a degree of their success to Greg’s culinary skills,” Mr. Klein said.
Like his wife, Mr. Klein loved surfcasting. Members of Montauk’s fishing community knew him as the Madhatter, referring to his colorful and cartoonish hat collection. “You could spot him from a mile away,” his brother said.
Mr. Klein mostly recently worked at White’s Liquor Store in Montauk, where customers had come to expect his quick wit and friendly demeanor.
In addition to his wife and brother, who lives in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Mr. Klein is survived by his mother, Connie Klein of Melville, and by two nephews. He also leaves behind his dogs, Benny and Josie.
A funeral Mass will be held on Dec. 2 at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church on Wolf Road in Melville at 9:30 a.m. A reception will follow at the Greens Club House on Old South Path in Melville. On Sunday, Dec. 4, a celebration of Mr. Klein’s life will be held at the Surfside Inn on Old Montauk Highway in Montauk, at 1 p.m.
Memorial contributions were suggested for the Montauk Food Pantry, c/o St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church, P.O. Box 5027, Montauk 11954.