Local chef identified as victim of fatal red-light running crash, FHP reports

Anne Matthews

Anne Matthews

The Florida Highway Patrol identified local chef, Anne Matthews, as the Naples woman killed Sunday morning when troopers say a driver ran a red light at Santa Barbara and Prince Andrews boulevards and crashed into her car.

Matthews, 76, of Matthews & Gardner catering, was considered a pillar of Naples’ high-end private catering industry. She was known by clients and peers for her creativity in putting together menus for intimate private parties.

“A legend is gone,” said Ana Howe, a former apprentice of Matthews who now runs Here’s Howe catering in Naples.

In her 16 years with Matthews & Gardner, Matthews cooked meals for presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, and catered big charity parties like the opening night of the Naples Wine Festival. What she loved the best, however, was cooking intimate, high-end meals for her closest customers, her long-time business partner Fred Gardner said.

“That’s what set her apart from other caterers,” Gardner said. “She preferred unique food for smaller groups. That was her character.”

Matthews built close relationships with those clients, Gardner said, even inviting them over to her home for meals.

Though well-versed in Indian and Chinese cuisine, Matthews real passion was in French cooking.

She also boasted an incredible memory for recipes, so much so that she no longer referred to her large supply of cookbooks.

“If you know what something is supposed to taste like, you can create it,” she told a reporter for Coastal Elegance & Wealth magazine in 2006.

Howe said Matthews lived in Naples without immediate family, but her clients and peers in the private chef industry become like family.

Matthews was killed when the driver of a 2006 Dodge pickup ran a red light, according to the FHP, crashing into the Matthews’ 2004 Buick Century about 11:15 a.m. The collision caused the Buick to crash into a traffic signal post.

Matthews was not wearing a seat belt. She was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital via air ambulance after the crash, where she was pronounced dead, according to an FHP report.

Jose Perez-Garcia, 28, of Naples, was driving the pickup with his 5-year-old and 3-year-old sons in the passenger seats. The 5-year-old was taken to a local hospital with minor injuries, troopers said. They were all wearing seat belts, according to reports.

Charges are pending the completion of an investigation.

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