Laurey Masterton, longtime activist and entrepreneur in Asheville, NC, and a featured guest on Chuck’s Eat the Street, lost her battle with cancer early Tuesday morning, Feb. 18, 2014.
“I can honestly say that out of all the people we met on the show, she had to be one of the most inspiring and peaceful,” said Chuck Hughes, chef and the host of Chuck’s Eat the Street. “The way everything stopped when we were surrounded by bees was very zen and totally unique. This news is really sad to hear.”
Laurey’s restaurant and catering business, Laurey’s, helped jump-start the revival of Asheville’s downtown. The author of The Fresh Honey Cookbook: 84 Recipes from a Beekeeper’s Kitchen (2013), Laurey also championed the local food movement and raised honeybees at her home.
Cancer was a factor in Laurey’s life from an early age. While growing up in Vermont, she lost both her parents to cancer. In her book, Elsie’s Biscuits: Simple Stories of Me, My Mother, and Food (2007), she tells about growing up, losing her parents, and then finding them again through food and stories. Laurey herself was diagnosed with uterine cancer at age 25 and with ovarian cancer at 34. In 2011, she developed colon cancer.
On behalf of the Ovarian Cancer Association, Laurey bicycled 3,100 miles across the country in 2009. Later, she founded JoyRide, a nonprofit that supports LIVESTRONG at the Y. Laurie participated in the specialized program, which supports people who have undergone radiation and chemotherapy treatments so that they can rebuild their physical and emotional health. In lieu of flowers, her family requests that donations be made to JoyRide.
In 2010, Laurey and several hundred chefs helped Michelle Obama launch the “Chefs Move to Schools” campaign to end childhood obesity. She also delivered a talk at TEDx Asheville entitled “Living with Bees, Living with Love,” in which she asked, “How do you live a life of joy?” Laurey found joy in supporting and loving her community of people and that of bees.
In Chuck’s Eat the Street episode 213 entitled “Best of the Blue Ridge,” Laurey introduced Chuck to her honey bees, whose bounty she used to make honey-glazed pork tenderloin with fresh peach salsa. The AMS Pictures crew filmed Laurey and Chuck as they removed honey-filled trays from the bee hives she kept in her front yard. When they tasted the nectar, Laurey reminded Chuck that the rich floral flavor came from everything around them, including flowers and plants she and her neighbors had planted. There was a beautiful alchemy in how the bees took bits and pieces from everyday things and transformed it into golden honey. The process is a good metaphor for Laurey herself, who had the insight to take in life and make it count. For her, every moment was precious. The program debuted in November 2013 and will reair today, Thursday, Feb 20, 2014.
Memories of Laurey, from the AMS Pictures crew:
“In the hustle and bustle of life we often forget to take time to appreciate the little things. If we’re lucky we get to meet people along the way who remind us to do that. Laurey Masterton was one such person. And although she is gone I’m reminded of the wisdom she shared that will live on: this moment, this day is what’s most important. Have fun, make it count and whatever you do, don’t postpone joy.”
– Monika Watkins
“What a bright beaming ray of hope Laurey was and is. Laurey showed us the life’s output of one honey bee. That small 1/12th teaspoon full of honey she wore in a vial around her neck was a visible reminder that all of us contribute in some way that impacts those around us. Laurey impacted us in a big way and I’m forever grateful. Our thoughts and prayers are with her friends and family. And her beloved motto, “Don’t Postpone Joy,” is something we should all apply to each and every day. ”
– Randy Martin
“Meeting Laurey for the brief time that we shot with her has made a lasting impact on me that will live on. It is rare that you meet someone that can have as much impact on you in such a short time. Her amazing spirit lives on in her motto. Three simple words, “don’t postpone joy,” have stuck with me and will continue to affect the way I live my life. Thank you, Laurey. You will be greatly missed.”
– Sarah Bell
“Laurey was a force to be reckoned with. She had a great spirit and a lust for life that infected me from the minute I met her. Very rarely does someone touch a life instantly, but Laurey touched mine and became an instant friend. She was such a great person and will be deeply missed.”
– Chad Windham
“Due to the close proximity of our locations in Asheville, the crew kept running into Laurey the week we were in town. She always greeted us with a smile and said goodbye with a hug. She had an incredibly positive attitude as well as a sense of humor, and both of those things were also exhibited on signs inside her restaurant. God bless you, Laurey. I hope to see you again someday.”
– Sean Whitley
“Laurey Masterson brought joy and light into every life that had the privilege of making her acquaintance. Laurey kept bees and loved to use honey in her delicious recipes. Her work helped shine a light on the importance of our honey bees and their struggles in our modern world of monoculture farming. We will forever remember her as sweetly as her favorite ingredient.”
– James Conant
“In the very short amount of time that I had the absolute pleasure of meeting and talking to Laurey, her positive outlook on life enhanced mine. Because of her, “don’t postpone joy” has become my personal mantra. I barely got to know Laurey, but I will always remember her.”
– Israel Pedraza