Courtesy of James Cason
Santa Rosa Junior College’s culinary arts instructor Denise Elliot died unexpectedly Feb. 23 at 59 years old.
When describing Elliot, Catherine Burgett, SRJC culinary arts instructor, said, “Humble would be the first word that comes to mind.”
Burgett and Elliot were colleagues and close friends for 22 years before Elliot’s passing. Burgett referred to Elliot as her “soul sister” because of their many affinities in the kitchen.
According to Burgett, Elliot was a “wild person” who would cross through new doors of experience as she came to them.
Elliot dedicated 30 years to SRJC students, though her legacy exceeds far beyond Santa Rosa. Burgett described Elliot as a revolutionary character who allowed her dreams and passions to guide her throughout her life.
Elliot owned a wholesale bakery for 20 years, biked across the U.S. in the 1980s and in the last four years started a cooking school called Buen Provecho in Baja California, Mexico.
“She was living her dream,” Burgett said. She spent six months teaching at SRJC and the rest of the year teaching at her cooking school. Elliot died from a respiratory infection only a few weeks after she returned to Mexico for the fourth year.
James Cason of the culinary arts department and friend of Elliot’s said she was a “vibrant, intelligent, superstar teacher who lived life to the fullest,” and was loved and respected by all who knew her.
“Her passing leaves a huge hole in our hearts. We miss her terribly already,” Cason said in an email to the SRJC community.