Gerald J. Scanlan Jr., 47, of Turnersville, a chef and instructor at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia for 19 years, died Sunday at home.
Results of medical tests to determine the cause of death are pending. Mr. Scanlan had lifelong health problems that grew worse after stomach surgery two years ago, said a friend, Lou Epstein.
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., Mr. Scanlan worked in restaurants at the Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino and the Trump Castle Casino Resort in Atlantic City and was chef de cuisine at the Hilton Hotel in Philadelphia and the Robin's Nest Restaurant in Mount Holly. He joined the faculty at the Restaurant School in 1989.
He taught several courses, including "Pastry Techniques" and "Meats and Game," and in 2002 established the Restaurant School's Culinary Olympics team. He and his team practiced virtually nonstop for nearly two years, said the school's president, Daniel Liberatoscioli. They won local, state and regional competitions and took first place at the nationals in 2004. Later that year, the team represented the United States in the International Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany, and won a silver medal.
"He worked nights and weekends to motivate the students," said Philip G. Pinkney, director of culinary arts at the Restaurant School.
"He was a kind, gentle and dedicated soul who put his heart into everything he did," Liberatoscioli said.
Mr. Scanlan organized the school's participation in numerous charity fund-raisers, Pinkney said, and every year he, students and other faculty members cooked a holiday lunch for 800 at Salvation Army headquarters on Broad Street.
Mr. Scanlan was selected 2002 chef of the year by the Delaware Valley Chefs Association and received the Sharing Culinary Traditions Award from the American Academy of Chefs.
He spent long hours on his feet in the kitchen and was dexterous with culinary equipment despite a shortened arm and spinal problems that caused back spasms, Esposito said. His medical condition was the result of prenatal exposure to the drug thalidomide. The medication, prescribed for pregnant women to treat morning sickness, was removed from the market in 1962 when it was found to cause a variety of serious birth defects.
Mr. Scanlan grew up working in his parents' business, Mokarys Seafoam Motel in Wildwood. His Lebanese mother taught him to cook Middle Eastern specialties.
He graduated from Washington Township High School, where he played soccer. He later took up golf, and was an ardent Eagles fan.
Mr. Scanlan is survived by sons Brendan and Gerald III and his former wife, Renee.
Friends may call from 8:30 to 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Egizi Funeral Home, 119 Ganttown Rd., Turnersville. A Funeral Mass will be said at 10:30 a.m. at St. Charles Borromeo Church, 176 Stagecoach Rd., Sicklerville. Burial will be in St. Joseph Cemetery, Chews Landing, N.J.