Cookbook sale proceeds go to cancer research

Published 9:53 am Friday, June 10, 2011


King's Fork Middle School teachers put together a cookbook with recipes from their late principal, Talmadge Darden. -- Merle Monahan | Tidewater News

CARRSVILLE—The love, respect and admiration that Talmadge Darden’s peers have for him will live on through memorials set up in his name, including a cookbook and three college scholarships.

A renowned chef and musician, Darden, 54, of Carrsville died from cancer on May 12.

Shortly before his death, several teachers at King’s Fork Middle School, where Darden had served as principal since it opened in 2001, formed a committee to formulate an activity for Relay for Life.

“Since Mr. Darden was such a wonderful cook, we asked him if he would allow us to put together a cookbook using his recipes, which we could sell to make money for cancer research,” said teacher and committee chairwoman Lisa Rath.

“He agreed, and thank goodness, he was able to see a draft of the book,” Rath said. “He did not live to see the finished product, which is an attractive, beautifully illustrated, nearly 150-page book of his recipes, from appetizers to desserts. His picture is on the cover.”

“We agonized over the perfect name for the book,” she added. “We finally came up with ‘Cooking with the King of King’s Fork Middle.’”

Teacher and committee member Hope Bradshaw said this was a labor of love shared by the entire Suffolk school system.

The book was printed by the school’s print shop and illustrated by other members of the system. A page near the front of the book is signed by all employees.

“We literally put this whole thing together in two months,” Bradshaw said. “We stayed late after school, worked during our spring break. I even took my laptop to a ball game once to catch up with the typing.”

“Mr. Darden teared up when he looked over the draft,” she added.

Team Darden set the school’s goal for Relay for Life at $5,000.

“From the sale of cookbooks at $20 each and other items like bracelets and T-shirts, money from food concessions and coin canisters, we were able to double that,” Rath said. “Out of nearly $17,000 raised so far, we donated $10,000 to Relay for Life. We’re going to bank the balance to help fund scholarships in Mr. Darden’s name.”

There were three things Darden was adamant about — cooking, education and music.

“We’ve formed the Darden Foundation, which will manage the funds for three different scholarships, one in culinary arts, one in education and one in music,” she said. “We think he would approve.”

Education was Darden’s career, but he also loved music and cooking that he often combined the three.

He planned and cooked a gourmet meal for his staff at King’s Fork every year around Christmas. He also started King’s Fork Catering, where any retirement party, new teacher orientation, reception or banquet within the Suffolk school system would be held at his school.

Darden, the music director at Suffolk Christian Church, could often be found in the church kitchen preparing a church supper or food for any outside event sponsored by the church.

Darden also shared his culinary talents with volunteer organizations. Every November, he cooked as many as 600 Thanksgiving turkeys with all the trimmings for Carrsville Volunteer Fire Department.

“He was a wonderful person and had so many friends,” said Bradshaw. “At his funeral, the church was packed and overflowing.”

“We plan to continue selling the cookbooks and raising money for the scholarships,” added Rath. “They are available at Suffolk Christian Church and King’s Fork Middle School during the daytime.

Interested buyers also may all Bradshaw at 539-5027, Paula Jessee at 742-6026, Lisa Rath at 373-7999 or Kathy Queen at 242-4365.