Michael Finch of Cedar Party died far before his time, on July 9, 2021, aged 51 years, after being diagnosed with a rare lung sarcoma nine months before.
His family were planning for some time to have a warm and informal get together with family, friends and colleagues at Bent on Food café in Wingham where he was working as a chef over the past few years, to celebrate his life, but COVID-19 continues to completely take over any such plans with its unpredictability and many restrictions. Michael, being the private person he was, probably would give a sigh of relief that he didn't have to posthumously attend.
Time has since passed, but his intricacies and the special ways in which he touched so many lives live on.
Michael (affectionately known as 'Finchy') knew many Wingham people from living and schooling there. He lost contact with many friends over the years as his life as a chef took him all around the world, but his heart was always here, where he did most of his growing up and started his apprenticeship, and he thought of himself as essentially a Wingham boy.
His radio interview in 2019 with Michael Condon on ABC Country Hour spoke to some of the highlights of his working career and also the joy of returning home to work with wonderful local produce .
Doing a chef's work was his great passion which meant that all else suffered a lot of the time, although his latter time in Indonesia produced a family of which he was very proud, who continue to live in Wingham today.
His career was one of excitement and hard work with very unsociable hours, but he had wonderful experiences working with some of the best and well known chefs in Europe and other countries (stories of whom he was happy to relate with a humorous perspective). He enjoyed it all immensely whilst adding to his wide and wonderful knowledge base, moving on to executive chef and management positions with all their complexities.
Although personally reserved, he was proficient and at ease in public speaking roles and his well known sense of sometimes crazy humour and proficient people skills stood him in good stead over the years and added to his likeable character.
Coming back after many years to Wingham, to the family home, and to Bent on Food as chef, was somewhere he could take a deep breath and focus on a more deep and meaningful life. He also enjoyed the camaraderie and day to day interactions with family, colleagues and local people, whilst also having free reign to indulge his passion for good food by use of the wonderful local produce here and his creativity.
His Sunday morning out of tune singing to loud Johnny Cash songs in the Bent kitchen became legendary, and Sundays there will never be the same.
He was an essentially private man, with hidden depths unknown to most, but his passion, hard work ethic, kindness and humour stand out.
He was and always will be, well loved.
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