Jerome "Chef" McElroy was a recurring character on the series, South Park. He was voiced by Isaac Hayes. He was killed off in the beginning of the tenth season following controversy with Hayes, who left the show after the episode about Scientology "Trapped in the Closet".
Please visit his article on the South Park Archives for more information.
Chef, as his nickname implies, was a school cafeteria cook at South Park Elementary and former member of City Council as "Head of Public Safety". He was usually the only adult that the main characters on the show (Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick) consistently asked for advice. A typical introduction goes as such:
- Chef: "Hello there, children!"
- Kids (in unison): "Hey, Chef."
- Chef: "How's it going?"
- One or all of kids: "Bad."
- Chef: "Why bad?"
One of the children then explained to him their problem. Chef used the word "children" often, even for the singular (for example, he referred to Cartman as "children" in "Cartman's Mom Is a Dirty Slut" and "Spontaneous Combustion", Stan in "Kenny Dies", and Butters in "Simpsons Already Did It"). He also tended to use "fudge" as a euphemism for "fuck", particularly in early episodes.
While most of the inhabitants of South Park are Caucasian, Chef was one of the very few residents in town who was African American; in fact the only other black people to consistently live in South Park are Token and his parents, who were not prominent characters until the fourth season. As a result, Chef (usually goodhearted, though not always) referred to most people in town with the racial slur "crackas," including the children.
Aside from cooking, Chef was passionate about singing - he wrote the song "Stinky Britches" which was later covered by Alanis Morissette. He was based on such 1970s African American singers as Isaac Hayes (who voiced him) and Barry White. Often, he agreed to give the boys advice in the form of songs, but wound up singing about having sex. Over time, however, like many earlier characters on the show, his role, especially as as a singer, diminished, and in later seasons he did not sing much.
Despite his preoccupations with women and sex, Chef was generally one of the few level-headed adults in South Park. In addition to dispensing advice to "the children", Chef spoke out against outrageous ideas, and helped save South Park/the world in general from several disasters. However, Chef was not above performing nonsensical acts, such as buying a fancy TV that he couldn't even program (and that eventually turned into a combat robot).
Chef’s last name suggests he could be at least partially of some Celtic descent, and indeed his parents live in Edinburgh, Scotland.
In the episode "The Return of Chef", he died after joining the Super Adventure Club, but was later resurrected in that same episode as "Darth Chef". Even so, Darth Chef has not re-appeared in South Park since.
Chef's parents first appeared in the episode, "The Succubus", when they came over from Scotland for Chef's wedding. They told the boys of their many alleged encounters with the Loch Ness Monster, and his attempts to swindle $3.50 ("tree-fiddy") out of them by dressing up as a Girl Scout, an alien and even using young Chef by posing as his imaginary friend.
In the season ten premiere "The Return of Chef", Chef was brainwashed into becoming a child molester by the "Super Adventure Club", an organization which combines outdoors activities with bizarre religious beliefs (some of which seem akin to those held by the real-life Church of Scientology) and pedophilia.
At the end of the episode, Chef was burned, battered, impaled, shot, his face pulled off, and his limbs were torn apart by a grizzly bear and a mountain lion.
The town held a moving memorial service for him, in which Kyle gave a eulogy stating, "We shouldn't be mad at Chef for leaving us, we should be mad at that fruity little club for scrambling his brains".
Chef's body was secretly recovered by the Super Adventure Club, who managed to revive him as a "Darth" Chef, mimicking the ending to Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. He was revived by the Super Adventure Club in a Darth Vader-esque suit (albeit with a helmet similar to a chef's hat) and was given a red spatula lightsaber.
While not mentioned canonically in the show, the name "Darth Chef" has been generally accepted by fans.
After Chef died, the children were never seen getting lunch again until "Crème Fraiche", and it was unknown who replaced Chef initially, however in "Eek, a Penis!", Mr. Derp was seen in the background, implying he took over for the time. In "Crème Fraiche" the boys are seen in the lunch line and are greeted by Randy Marsh with Chef's familiar lines "Hello there children!" and "How's it goin'?" and he reveals there was an opening for a cafeteria chef. Chef himself is not directly referenced in the episode though, and Randy quits at the end, meaning it's likely Mr. Derp took the role back.