Lawrence Klang, former executive chef at Portland’s Tempo Dulu and The Camden Harbour Inn, has died unexpectedly. He was 47.

Klang, who had moved to Florida with his wife in the spring of 2016 after serving as the opening chef of Tempo Dulu, was scheduled to return to Maine for the summer season to be executive chef of the Blair Hill Inn on Moosehead Lake.

Raymond Brunyanszki, who co-owns the Danforth Inn, where Tempo Dulu is located (and is scheduled to end its run tomorrowSaturday night), and the Relais & Chateaux-designated Camden Harbour Inn, said that Klang apparently died in his sleep. Klang’s wife, Laura Pentel-Klang, told Brunyanszki that Klang died peacefully “surrounded by all his cookbooks with their cat Sage.”

He spoke highly of the chef.

“I think everybody who worked with him will say the same thing: He was extremely talented, very creative, very passionate about his job as a chef, but he was also a very nice person,” Brunyanszki said. “Very well-spoken. Very thoughtful. A lot of people in Maine, and also in France, where he worked, and in the rest of the United States are very shocked by this news. This is hard news.”

According to Klang’s LinkedIn profile and his own website, he had a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Washington State University and had studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu-London. He’d spent time in several kitchens in Florida, including restaurants at the Sandestin Resort and the WaterColor Inn.

Ruth McLaughlin, who owns the Relais & Chateaux Blair Hill Inn with her husband, said that she and Klang had corresponded about details for the upcoming season just two days before he died. He was excited to be arriving earlier than originally scheduled because he wanted to get the inn’s garden going, she said, and was apologetic that he had been a little out of touch, saying he felt under the weather with the flu. She said Klang and she had communicated for several years about the possibility of his cooking at the inn, and the timing had finally worked out. When she got in touch Thursday to ask about publicizing his upcoming tenure, Klang’s wife responded to her email with a note saying that her husband had died, peacefully, in his favorite chair.

“It’s not like he worked here for a year or two,” McLaughlin said, “but every conversation I had – what a wise and humble gentleman. I would hang up feeling so reassured about so many things. He just seemed like a really calm but driven person, and so excited you’d think he was at the beginning of his career.”

Shocked and sad as she felt, she and her husband have already begun looking for a replacement, as “the season is pressing on us,” but, she added, “It will feel like a season that’s dedicated to him in everything we do.”

Klang is survived by his wife. Neither Brunyanszki nor McLaughlin knew the cause of death.

Peggy Grodinsky can be contacted at 791-6453 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: PGrodinsky

filed under: