Advertisement

Kurt Michael Friese, chef, food activist and Johnson County Supervisor, dies at age 54


Kurt Michael Friese, a member of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors and a long-time leader in Iowa’s slow food movement, has died. According to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, emergency personnel were dispatched to Friese’s home on Friday morning, but the supervisor had already passed by the time they arrived.

The cause of death for the 54 year-old Friese has not yet been determined.

A well-known chef, Friese studied photography at Coe College in Cedar Rapids before attending the New England Culinary Institute, where he later became a chef-instructor. After returning to the Midwest, Friese established himself as an early leader in the local food movement in Iowa City, working to support local food producers and artisans, and promote sustainable agriculture.

With his wife, Kim McWane Friese, he opened Devotay in 1996. The restaurant, which quickly become a fixture on the Iowa City food scene, was named for the couple’s children, Devon and Taylor.

Last year on Dec. 5, the 21st anniversary of the restaurant’s opening, the couple announced they were selling Devotay, and the new owner took over on the last day of 2017.

Friese wrote widely about food and related issues, including in a year-long series of columns for Little Village in 2008. The Frieses were also the publishers of Edible Iowa River Valley.

Friese was the author of A Cook’s Journey: Slow Food in the Heartland , and the co-author of Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots along the Pepper Trail.

In 2016, he decided to run for the Johnson County Board of Supervisors on a platform of “preserv[ing] farmland in the North Corridor from residential development and remov[ing] barriers to local food production.”

“I want to protect farmland from concrete and encourage local food production,” Friese said, when he announced his candidacy.

In addition to his work in Iowa City and Johnson County, Friese had also served as director of Local Food and Advocacy at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids.

Friese is survived by his wife and their two children.


Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV » editor@littlevillagemag.com

Advertisement

World of Bikes presents:

KEEP ROLLING THROUGH THE WINTER

Come talk with our experts about ways to stay on the bike this winter! Find out more at World of Bikes.

Get Started

Advertisement

Muscatine, Iowa

SHOP SMALL • SUPPORT LOCAL

Come to Muscatine for all your Holiday shopping and visit all of our unique and locally owned shops and restaurants!

Visit Muscatine

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.

Regular

$10/mo or $120/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.

Italic

$20/mo or $240/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.

Bold

$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
LittleVillageMag.com connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.