Local Obituaries

Master chef, brother of Miami commissioner, Jarius Dunn dies at 49

Jarius Sheffield Dunn was a popular chef at the former Mahogany Grill in Miami Gardens and The Crab Stop Miami in Brownsville.
Jarius Sheffield Dunn was a popular chef at the former Mahogany Grill in Miami Gardens and The Crab Stop Miami in Brownsville. Courtesy Dunn family

Shortly after the death of chef Jarius Dunn, the Rev. Richard Dunn II, a former Miami commissioner, reflected on his baby brother.

“The running joke in the family is we should have named him Richard because he looked more like my father. I was the preacher like our grandfather [Rev. Jarius Wilson Dunn]. The roles should have been switched,” Dunn II said of his brother, who died Nov. 16.

Dunn, born March 23, 1967, at the former black-owned Christian Hospital in Brownsville, was 49 and died from pneumonia, a complication of a stroke he suffered more than two years ago. The brothers’ father, Richard, died at 48 from heart failure more than 30 years ago. At the time, Dunn was on a track scholarship at Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“[Jarius] became a father at 18 at the same time he lost his father and so at 25 I was trying to father him and be a brand-new husband at the same time. Neither of us knew what the heck we were doing,” Dunn II said.

The younger Dunn made his mark in Miami as a master chef. He worked at the former Mahogany Grill, an upscale Southern soul food restaurant in Miami Gardens co-owned by Hall of Fame baseball outfielder Andre Dawson, a Miami Marlins executive. Before the stroke forced his retirement, Dunn also dished up seafood delicacies at The Crab Stop Miami in Brownsville.

“One of my favorite breakfasts was his salmon croquettes and grits. If he was making that, I wasn’t leaving until I got some of that. I love him,” said son Jarius Dunn, a Miami-Dade corrections officer. The two, he said, loved to cheer for the Oakland Raiders together. Daughter Shakerra Dunn shared her older brother’s passion for the dish. “That’s how I learned to make it.”

Said Dunn II, “He loved to cook and learned to cook at Miami Northwestern [Senior High]’s culinary department. At the Crab Stop some of the older people wouldn’t come unless they knew he was there that day. He was a good cook who would make the most perfect eggs you could imagine.”

Indeed, “he didn’t have the credentials but he definitely had the talent,” said his older sister Drabina Washington, who will forever be known as B.B. thanks to her little brother. “He was the baby and could not pronounce my name so he penned me ‘B.B.’ and the nickname stuck. That nickname holds dear to me.”

Dunn, she said, could always be counted on to help out in the community with Thanksgiving food preparations. “Everything anyone needed, anything catered, he was there.”

Dunn is also survived by his grandson Jaden. Services will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at Faith Community Baptist Church, 10401 NW Eighth Ave., Miami.

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