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'Colonel' De Stewart, Northern Kentucky spice king, dead at 71

Posted at 11:15 AM, Oct 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-12 07:23:14-04

FORT THOMAS, Ky. – Popular chef and Northern Kentucky personality "Colonel" De Stewart died Thursday morning at the age of 71.

Stewart died in his Fort Thomas home from a massive heart attack, according to a press release issued through his family-owned business, Colonel De Gourmet Herbs and Spices.

“It with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of 'Colonel' De," said Susan Stewart, business co-founder and De Stewart's wife of 14 years. "We have suffered a major loss. Our family, friends and customers will have a huge void because De was larger-than-life."

RELATED: Spices, sauces, herbs, rubs: Northern Kentucky's one-of-a-kind Colonel De brings the flavor

A real-life Kentucky Colonel, Stewart's local spice business began in 2003 when he first hosted a cooking segment on a Northern Kentucky cable television show. Stewart "wanted to show how spices and herbs could change the flavor of common foods," according to the release.

Stewart and his wife then started selling 15 products, including Stewart's custom blend of spices, at various local farmer's markets 13 years ago. Colonel De Gourmet Herbs and Spices has operated a stand at Findlay Market for nearly 12 years, as well as expanding sales to Jungle Jim's in Eastgate.

By 2016, Stewart supplied 50-60 regional restaurant clients with his spices, which included the extremely popular Eli's BBQ.

This May, the Stewarts opened Colonel's Kitchen at 22 N. Fort Thomas Ave. in Fort Thomas. The sit-down lunch and breakfast spot features a scratch kitchen and seasonal menu flavored with Colonel De spices.

Stewart was born on July 22, 1947, in Louisville to the late Kenneth and LaVada Stewart. He was proclaimed an official Kentucky Colonel in 1999. He is survived by his wife, son Ashley and daughter-in-law Christi, his grandchildren and rescue dog named Cinnamon.

Susan Stewart, along with Ashley and Christi, said they are committed to continuing the legacy of the Colonel and the Colonel brands. 

Stewart's funeral is planned for Tuesday, October 16, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Mess Hall at Tower Park at 900 Ft. Thomas Ave., Fort Thomas, KY.