Founding chef at Mezze Bistro, injured in crash, dies


BENNINGTON — A local chef who was seriously injured in a three-vehicle crash on July 15 has died.

Omar Montoya, 47, recently of Williamstown, Mass., was pronounced dead on July 21 at 1 p.m. at the Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y., according to Bennington Police.

Police responded to a crash on Route 7 in front of the Park Lawn Cemetery where Montoya's 2014 Kia Optima was traveling north when it crossed the centerline and hit a 2012 GMC Yukon. The Yukon left the roadway and flipped while Montoya's vehicle continued to collide head-on with a 2010 Toyota Prius.

A total of five people were involved in the crash, two of them 4-year-old children who were in the Prius. Everyone involved was wearing a seatbelt. All but Montoya were treated and released from Southwestern Vermont Medical Center that day. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

According to his obituary, Montoya was the first chef at Mezze Bistro in Williamstown, starting there in 1996. He was there for more than 10 years before moving to Boca Raton, Fla., where he continued as a chef in various places. He was also the founding chef at Café Latino at MASS MoCA.

Born in Peru, Montoya grew up in Glen Cove on Long Island. He studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. He had been back in Williamstown for two months, having come to work at Mezze Catering + Events.

According to an email sent out by Mezze Bistro, a celebration was planned for July 24 at the Bistro to honor Montoya's life.

"Adored by colleagues and friends, he sparked the passion of dozens of chefs and shared his knowledge, remarkable work ethic and beautiful food wherever he went. His incredible talents, mischievous sense of humor and his virtuous love of people were gifts to all of us," reads part of the message.

— Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at 802-447-7567 Ext. 115


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