(KTXL) — The death of restaurateur Chris Jarosz has deeply affected the culinary community locally and across the state.

California Restaurant Association President and CEO Jot Condie describes restaurant Jarosz as “larger than life.”

“The tattoos, his spiked hair. I always enjoyed watching him walk into a room,” Condie said. “At such a young age, it’s just tragic.”

Jarosz died early Wednesday morning when for an unknown reason his vehicle veered into a lane that was blocked off by cones, crashing into a utility truck.

The California Highway Patrol said he was found not wearing a seatbelt when he hit the back of a construction truck on Highway 50 near 51st Street.

Fellow Sacramento restaurateur Patrick Mulvaney said he can’t believe his friend of over a decade is gone so soon. 

“Just like families, we fought, disagreed and laughed, and drank. So, when they go away. It’s hard,” Mulvaney said.

Mulvaney recalls their early days, coming up in the Sacramento food scene before the region became the nation’s farm-to-fork capital. 

“He didn’t see Sacramento as a problem to fix but a place to improve. I think that is a good way to look at the world and a good legacy,” Mulvaney said.

Jarosz, the former Sacramento chapter president of the California Restaurant Association and co-owner of several of the region’s culinary favorites, including Broderick’s Roadhouse, will also be remembered for his generosity.

“A side of him people didn’t see is him rolling up his sleeves and spending time in a high school classroom, helping at-risk kids in the industry,” Condie said. 

Jarosz continued rolling up those sleeves even during the pandemic. 

“Chris was one of those who said, ‘We have empty cooks, and empty restaurants, and food in the fields, and we know there’s hungry people out there what are we going to do?’ In Sacramento, we brought probably about 3 million meals and a good number of those came from him,” Mulvaney said.

Mulvaney’s B&L will be holding a pop-up from noon to 3 p.m. outside their restaurant this Saturday in honor of Jarosz. They welcome people to come and reminisce about their friend over food.