Remembering Benjamin Clark, Executive Chef

Remembering Benjamin Clark, Executive Chef

Collection 9/11 Memorial Museum, Gift and loan courtesy of LaShawn Clark

The artifacts shared with visitors in the Museum’s In Memoriam gallery help reveal the lives and personal stories of 2,983 people killed in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and Feb. 26, 1993. Once a year, Museum staff rotate the objects on view in the gallery’s four display cases to present items that belonged to victims or speak to their individual identities. Today we highlight favorite recipe cards and culinary tools used by Benjamin Clark, now on current view.

For lifelong Brooklyn resident Benjamin Clark, his tenure as a chef in the U.S. Marines during the Gulf War became a passport to a career in fine dining. Upon completing his military service, he went on to train at the New York campus of Le Cordon Bleu, the famed French culinary school.

After joining the food service company Sodexho Alliance, he became an executive chef at Fiduciary Trust Company International located on the upper floors of the South Tower. Responsible for planning meals and feeding more than 250 company employees, Clark was known for greeting everyone by name and with a smile.

He took great pride in his kitchen utensils, which he cleaned and maintained meticulously. A selection of these utensils along with his hand-written recipe cards for lamb shank and riz pilaf and toque are featured in the latest rotation of objects in the Museum’s In Memoriam gallery.

His wife, LaShawn Clark, reflects that cooking and food presentation have been connective activities for the family since 2001, and are one important way they keep Benjamin’s memory present-tense. Two of her sons have inherited their father’s “craft of culinary knowing.” Like their father, each has acquired the confidence to eyeball portions and ingredients, tasting as they go.

During holidays, the Clark family gathers to enjoy twin staples of Benjamin’s home entertainment menu: different-flavored corn on the cob, and red rice, consisting of multi-colored peppers, red onion, celery, garlic and a pinch of vinegar. As was the case during Benjamin’s heyday in the family kitchen, friends dropping by for dinner have learned to bring only cheese and crackers and leave the cooking to the Clarks.

On September 11, Benjamin was last seen on the South Tower’s 88th floor with three other people assisting a woman in a wheelchair. He was 39 years old when the building collapsed, leaving behind a wife, five children and many grieving friends, relatives and fellow Fiduciary employees.

Benjamin Clark's culinarytools
Photo by Jin Lee, 9/11 Memorial

If you are interested in donating photos or objects that reflect the life of a family member or friend who died as a result of the 9/11 attacks, you may learn more about contributing to the In Memoriam collection by contacting collections@911memorial.org or by calling (212) 312-8800 x3.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff