I last talked with Heather Ho on Monday, September 10. I was supposed to come to New York the following week and wanted to plan the time I would spend with my best friend.
"Where do you wanna eat?" she asked.
"Heather," I said, "you know I'm meeting you after dinner."
"Yeah, I know. But we've got to eat together, too. Where do you want to go?"
Around 8:30 the next morning, Heather rode the elevator to the 107th floor of One World Trade Center, as she had ever since starting as executive pastry chef at Windows on the World in June. I never heard from her again.
All my best memories of Heather involve food: as high school girls in Hawaii swooning over Thai tapioca and apple bananas (a moment we relived in a story for FOOD & WINE last year); as college students deveining shrimp in the kitchen of our great friend Malia Mattoch; as grown-ups devouring the pencil-thin sauteed asparagus with capers and anchovies Heather cooked for our first meal of the new millennium. Heather's love for food and her finely calibrated palate led her to cook in some of the country's best kitchensamong them, Bouley, Jo Jo and Gramercy Tavern in New York, and Aqua and Boulevard in San Francisco.
Her loss has left a hole in my heart that is devastatingly wide and deep. But in my stronger moments, I try to fill it with pictures of Heather at her happiest. My favorite? She is on the veranda at Da Delfina, her jet black hair gleaming in the fading Tuscan sun, the remnants of a six-course, three-hour lunch littering the table. She sits back, lights a cigarette, orders another Prosecco and flashes her Coco-red smile at me.
"What should we eat for dinner?" she asks.
- Malia Boyd