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Jerome "Chef" McElroy

March 2010 Featured Article Winner

Jerome McElroy, more commonly referred to as Chef, was a recurring character on South Park. He was most famous for being the South Park Elementary cafeteria chef and the boys' go-to guy for advice, which would often result into him breaking into songs about sex. He made his debut in the Season One episode "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe" and was voiced by the late Isaac Hayes.

Chef was killed off in the Season Ten debut episode, "The Return of Chef", following controversy with Isaac Hayes, who left the series after the episode, "Trapped in the Closet" aired, due to its portrayal of Scientology.


Chef on South Park Studios.


As his nickname implies, Chef was a school cafeteria cook at the South Park Elementary School and former member of City Council as "Head of Public Safety". He was the only adult that the boys (Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny) consistently looked to for advice. A typical exchange between Chef and the boys goes as such:

Chef: "Hello there, children!"
Boys: [in unison] "Hey, Chef."
Chef: "How's it going?"
Boys: [one or all] "Bad."
Chef: "Why bad?"

Chef used the word "children" often, even for a singular child. 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 "The Simpsons Already Did It". He also tended to use "fudge" as a euphemism for "fuck", particularly in early episodes. The various humorously named snacks he made in "Chef's Chocolate Salty Balls" epitomized this.

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 Tolkien and his parents, who were not prominent characters until the fourth season. As a result, Chef (usually affectionately, though not always) referred to most people in town with the racial slur "crackers", often "cracker-ass", 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 and Barry White. Often, he agreed to give the boys advice in the form of songs but wound up singing about having sex. However, over time, like many earlier characters on the show, his role, especially as a singer, diminished, and in later seasons he did not sing much. By the time his death occurred, he had not sung any songs in 4 years or so, with one of the last examples of him singing being "The Simpsons Already Did It".

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 disasters on numerous occasions. However, Chef was not above performing nonsensical acts, such as buying a fancy TV that he could not even program.


Chef would often explain mature themes to the boys.

In earlier seasons, Chef was often approached by the children when they were unfamiliar with a sexual term or practice. This happened so often that it eventually got on Chef's nerves, leading him to say, "Goddammit, children, why do I always have to be the one to teach you these things?", but went on to explain to them whatever they wanted to know anyway.

Chef's last name suggests he could be at least partially of some Celtic descent, and indeed his parents live in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In "Chef Goes Nanners", he briefly converted to Islam and adopted the name "Abdul Mohammed Jabar Rauf Kareem Ali", but converted back to Christianity by the end of the episode.


The Boys

Chef is often seen with the boys, and at times teaches them life lessons through song. But he, like every other citizen in South Park, is more than willing to insult Cartman and call him fat. In "Cartman's Mom is a Dirty Slut", Cartman thinks Chef is his father and tries to look like an African-American. In "Chef Aid", the boys attempt to help Chef out of jail by organizing a "Chef Aid" concert featuring many celebrities who Chef was friends with. In "The Succubus", after dating Veronica, he spends less time with the boys and changes a bit.


Chef started dating Veronica in "The Succubus". However, the boys did not approve of her. They sing a bad song to the boys. Later in the episode, Veronica reveals herself as a succubus, before being banished by the boys.

Criminal Record

  • Manslaughter: In "Pinkeye", he rips off a hospital patient's arm in order to show to the doctor that the undead cannot feel pain, but actually the patient was not undead, and accidentally kills him in the process.
  • Escape from jail: In "Chef Aid", he along with Mr. Garrison, escape from Officer Barbrady's cell, after Mr. Hat breaks the cell wall.
  • Arson: In "Chef Goes Nanners", he lights a man on fire.
  • Soliciting Sex from Minors: In "The Return of Chef", he gets brainwashed into being a pedophile after joining the Super Adventure Club and starts making sexual advances to the boys and other schoolchildren.


Thomas and Nellie McElroy

Chef's parents first appeared in "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 Biggest Douche in the Universe", they tried to give Cartman "more time" by extracting Kenny's soul from inside him. Chef's mother also offered "tree-fiddy" to Kenny to go out the window in case the soul got on the curtains or into the pot roast (which Kenny ended up getting trapped in), to which his father replied, "Now don't go offerin' the soul no tree-fiddy, woman!" They are also seen in a crowd during "Red Sleigh Down".

Unnamed Members

  • In "The Succubus", Chef's father mentions that he once told the Loch Ness monster to leave his children alone, implying that Chef has at least one sibling. However, Chef sometimes refers to one child as “children”, so it's possible that his father does this as well.
  • In "Death", Chef mentions that his grandfather has passed on after the boys mention that Stan's grandfather, Marvin Marsh, wants to die.
  • In "The Succubus", an elderly male relative and and elderly female relative are shown at his wedding and the reception. They are later seen in photographs at his parents' house in "The Biggest Douche in the Universe".


1001 chef-torn-apart

Chef's gruesome death.

The fate of Chef was revealed in the Season 10 premiere, in which voice clips taken from previous episodes were linked together to form new dialogue to support the plot of "The Return of Chef". In the episode, Chef was brainwashed into becoming a child molester by the Super Adventure Club, an organization which combines outdoors activities with sex tourism and bizarre religious beliefs, some of which seem akin to those held by the real-life Church of Scientology.

At the end of the episode, Chef was burned, battered, impaled, shot, his face, including one eyeball, was pulled off, and his limbs were torn apart by a grizzly bear and a mountain lion, he gets split in half, and he finally defecated as he died as a reference to the episode "Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes".

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" - a not-so-subtle jab at Scientology.

Darth Chef

Darth Chef

Darth Chef, as seen in "The Return of Chef".

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. After that, the Super Adventure Club leader Connelly began the scene, which parodies Revenge of the Sith:

Darth Chef-0
Connelly: "Chef, can you hear me? Say something!"
Darth Chef: [with respirator-assisted Vader-like breathing] "Hello there, children. How would you like some Salisbury steak?"
Connelly: "Yes, go on!"
Darth Chef: "And for dessert, how would you children like to suck on my chocolate salty balls?"
Connelly: [mimicking children's voice] "Oh, you mean like a chocolate candy?"
Darth Chef: "No, I mean MY BALLS!"

Connelly, as a parody of Darth Sidious, was very happy about Darth Chef's reply and responds with an evil laugh.

Darth Chef's voice was provided by Peter Serafinowicz, who voiced Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. However, he has not reappeared. It is now highly unlikely for him to return due to Isaac Hayes' death. Darth Chef does, however, appear along with many other characters in the background of the South Park opening sequence. While he is in Chef's place in the crowd of waving townspeople beginning right after "The Return of Chef", the clip of him waving is inserted into the opening beginning in "Make Love, Not Warcraft". Instead of waving, he is seen threateningly activating his lightsaber/spatula.

It should be noted the name "Darth Chef" has been generally accepted by fans, but is never actually used on the show. It is, however, mentioned on South Park Studios.


After Chef died, the children were not seen getting lunch again until "Crème Fraiche", and it was unknown who replaced Chef. 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 with Chef's familiar lines "Hello there children!" and "How's it goin'?" He also wore an apron that was similar to Chef's, only smaller, 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 is likely Mr. Derp or another staff member took on the role again.

Chef is seen briefly during a trailer for South Park: The Stick of Truth breaking out from a coffin, partially rotting, much to the shock of Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and the New Kid. Despite his final appearance in the show depicting him in a Darth Vader-like suit, his appearance in-game is a zombified version of his normal attire (along with the addition of a Nazi Sash around his arm). Chef is brought back to life by Clyde thanks to toxic waste made by aliens as a zombie Nazi as a boss fight, at points Chef will try biting the New Kid, only for him to literally knock some sense into him, unfortunately Clyde shoots the toxic waste from a water gun at Chef, causing the zombie Nazi personality to take over. At the end of the fight, Chef gains control, but only briefly as Clyde lights him on fire in a last ditch effort to defeat the New Kid, who had no choice but to use magical farts on Chef, burning his face off and killing him again. Chef's dialogue is, much like in Chef's return, comprised of stock audio (both from Isaac Hayes and various speeches from Adolf Hitler).

Chef was referenced in "Stunning and Brave", when P.C. Principal mentions a "chef person of color who loved to sing soul songs", and claims that the children drove him to suicide. Butters corrects him by stating that he was brainwashed by a cult.

Isaac Hayes Quits South Park


Isaac Hayes voiced Chef from 1997 to 2006.

On March 13, 2006, Isaac Hayes was reported to have quit South Park over objections to the show's attitudes toward and depiction of various religions, claiming that the show had crossed the line from satire into intolerance.

Despite the content of the official press release, however, there remains considerable speculation about the motivations behind his departure. Parker and Stone assert that he quit due to the controversial episode "Trapped in the Closet", and its treatment of Scientology, as Hayes was a member of the religion. Series co-creator and writer Matt Stone commented in a manner that suggested that Hayes practiced a double standard regarding the treatment of religion on South Park: "[We] never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin." [4]

Others have suggested that Hayes left the show because of the external pressure forced by his fellow Scientologists and that the decision was not voluntary. It was eventually reported, however, that Hayes did not quit the show, but that the original press release announcing his departure was put out by someone who was not authorized to represent him. On January 4, 2006, Hayes defended South Park's style of controversial humor to The Onion's AV Club and XM's Opie and Anthony Show, going so far as to note that although he was not pleased with the show's depiction of Scientology, he "understand[s] what [Matt and Trey] are doing." It was reported that Hayes suffered a stroke in the middle of January 2006 and was not in a position to make major decisions for himself.

Hayes died of a stroke on August 10, 2008, making "The Return of Chef" Chef's final official appearance in the show.


Aside from Nichole, Tolkien, and their families, Chef was the only African-American character in South Park. He was almost always seen wearing his chef's hat, red shirt and blue pants. He was also often seen wearing a white apron with the word "Chef" printed on it. He appeared to be slightly overweight and had a black beard. In "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe" his apron text changes from an uppercase "CHEF" to a lowercase "chef" in one scene.

Chef seems to have worn a chef's hat for most of his life, even when he was not employed as a chef. He wore it as a child, as seen in "The Tooth Fairy Tats 2000" and supported by his father's anecdote in "The Succubus". Even when he is employed as an accountant in "The Succubus", his signature hat can be seen hanging up in his office. However, he does not wear it as a young adult in the flashbacks in "Chef Aid" or "Cartman's Mom is a Dirty Slut".

To see images of Jerome "Chef" McElroy, visit Jerome "Chef" McElroy/Gallery.



  • "Hello there, children!"


  • In "Die Hippie, Die", Chef was the head of the Public Safety Department. After his death, he was replaced by Glen in "Night of the Living Homeless" until he was also killed.
  • In the early seasons, he is shown coaching the South Park Elementary dodgeball and football teams in "Conjoined Fetus Lady" and "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride" respectively, making him a member of teaching staff. After his demise this position was taken over by Mr. Garrett.
  • Chef is known for sleeping with lots of women and having no known children; Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef, has several children and grandchildren.
  • Chef has seen The Loch Ness Monster and possibly thought it was imaginary, as he says to his father that it is his imaginary friend, Goo-Goo the Dinosaur.
  • Chef says in "Cartman's Mom is a Dirty Slut" that he would not have a three-way with Mrs. Cartman and Mr. Garrison, saying he would only do it if there were two women, and not two men. In "The Wacky Molestation Adventure", when Mrs. Cartman is arrested, she is arrested, presumably while having a three-way, with Chef and another unnamed man.
  • Chef originally came to South Park to start his own restaurant, as revealed in "Cartman's Mom is a Dirty Slut".
  • Chef is strong, as he is shown lifting Dr. Alphonse Mephesto without strain in "Cartman's Mom is Still a Dirty Slut".
  • Chef had a speaking role in 55 episodes, including "The Return of Chef". After Season 6, he made fewer and fewer appearances as the show went on.
  • Chef was the first adult to appear in the series, as well as the first African-American character and minority character to appear in the series.
  • In "The Biggest Douche in the Universe", his last name is misspelled McGillory on the tag with the ham containing Kenny's soul. Rob Schneider takes it from the airport and eats it thus becoming possessed by Kenny.
  • Unlike most of the children, who simply refer to him as "Chef", Pip Pirrip calls him "Mr. Chef", as shown in "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride" and "Conjoined Fetus Lady".
  • He was mentioned in the movie Blockers when Mitchell, Lisa, and Hunter were curious why Connor was known as chef, and Hunter stated if it is the one in South Park who says "Hello children."
  • During the early seasons, Chef's head was never seen from a side angle, until the episode "Fourth Grade". Even after this episode, it was very rarely shown from a side angle.
  • Additionally, a common error occurred in the first five or so seasons in which the word "Chef" on his apron switched from capital to lowercase. Generally, it was lowercase when viewed from the side, and capital when viewed from the front.
  • Due to the boys later becoming less dependent on Chef for answers to their problems and Isaac Hayes' deteriorating health, Chef became much less prominent as the show went on, only having a single speaking role in Season 9, and eventually being written out entirely following Hayes' departure over the Scientology controversy.

Drawn Together showing Chef's death

  • "A Tale of Two Cows" (Episode 17 of Drawn Together) (Which aired on February 8, 2006) unironically portrayed Chef's death just 6 weeks before "The Return of Chef" even aired (Seeing how Drawn Together aired alongside South Park at the time).
  • Chef is the only South Park character to appear on Adult Swim's Robot Chicken, appearing in the Celebrity MasterChef sketch, where he is voiced by Gary Anthony Williams.
  • In each episode of the first nine seasons, even the ones in which the character does not appear, Isaac Hayes gets a slide of the credits sequence dedicated to him guest starring as Chef.
  • Chef's skin is slightly lighter in color from Season 5 through 10 (the seasons animated with Maya) than it is in the first four seasons (animated with PowerAnimator).
  • Despite not being on the show anymore, Chef is a result on SP and ME. He was also one of many residents of South Park who attended Real Life 2020 NFL Denver Broncos games. He can be seen watching the game with his parents.[5]
  • Strangely, despite Chef being killed off the show in the Season 10 premiere, Darth Chef can be seen as a background character in the intros for later seasons starting with Season 11.
  • In "Crème Fraiche", his catchphrase was referenced by Randy as he greets the boys in the same way Chef would do by saying "Hello there, children" and "How's it going?". Randy also wore his apron.


Video Games

South Park


Chef's model in South Park

Chef is a supporting character throughout the game's story and is also a playable character in multiplayer mode.

South Park: The Stick of Truth


Chef being resurrected as Nazi Zombie in the mission Beat Up Clyde.

In South Park: The Stick of Truth, Chef is revived as a Nazi Zombie by Clyde. The player referred to as "Douchebag" must fight him as a penultimate boss. It is revealed that he has been stitched back together, however, his skin has turned green (like most zombies in the game), the visible scars and gashes from his brutal death still remain, and his old clothes are tattered (as you would expect). He will quickly switch between his old voice and the Nazi outbursts common among those exposed to the green goo. His voice lines are similar to being replayed from an old episode, much like "The Return of Chef", this is due to how the original voice actor having passed away 6 years prior to the game's release, when making his old voice lines, he is still his old self, showing regret for him being forced to attack the boys, but this is quickly stopped by Clyde, who quickly covers him in the green goo.

Zombie Chef's abilities include: "Chocolate Salty Balls", which involves him pulling out said balls from the gash in his stomach inflicting gross out if not blocked, "Hello Children", where he attempts to bite the player character (but mashing the corresponding buttons when shown can block the attack), or he can use his spatula as a melee weapon, dealing a large amount of damage if it is unblocked (especially to Jimmy or Cartman).

When the player takes Chef's health down to 1 (from a rather large 73,476 if you are level 15), Chef will fully regain control of himself and proclaim "Children! Everybody! I'm back!", before Clyde will throw a Molotov Cocktail at Chef, causing him to violently burst into flames and run around. The player will charge up and release a powerful fart, to which Chef gets caught in the proceeding fireball, killing him and causing him to re-sustain the brutal injuries that led to his original death, albeit him now being horribly charred. If the player fails to do this quickly then Chef will set the player and their buddy on fire unless they have any shields. Once they have no shields then they will get fire damage and will die soon meaning that they will have to restart the game from the last checkpoint.

Aside from his boss fight, Chef's picture is also seen on the "Hall of Honor" along with deceased faculty members and students.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole

As with the previous game, Chef's photograph is present in the Hall of Honor, although this time it is not explorable.


South Park Elementary staff
Coach Miles | Girls' Volleyball Coach | Herbert Garrison | Mitchell | Mr. Derp | Mr. Garrett | Mr. Harris | Mr. Mackey | Mr. Meryl | Mr. Thompson | Mr. Wyland | Mrs. Streibel | Ms. Bronski | PC Principal | Pearl | Recess Supervisor | Richard Adler | Strong Woman | Substitute Teacher | Unnamed Bus Driver
Diane Choksondik | Jerome "Chef" McElroy | Jose Venezuela | Margaret Nelson | Miss Claridge | Mr. Conners | Mr. Slave | Ms. Ellen | Ms. Stevenson | Nurse Gollum | Principal Victoria | Randy Marsh | Veronica Crabtree