The Austin Chronicle

President of Austin LDEI Chapter Dies

By MM Pack, May 20, 2014, 12:30pm, On the Range

Delma Denice Woods

Nov. 12, 1958 - May 2, 2014

With great sadness, the Austin chapter reports the death of their esteemed president, Denice Woods. Undaunted by her two-and-a-half-year struggle with cancer, Denice served the chapter with grace, grit, and good humor.

An member of the Austin chapter of Les Dames d' Escoffier since 2005, Denice served as first and second vice-president before taking the reins as president six months ago. For years, she burned up Interstate 35 between her home in historic Salado and Austin, where she was an enthusiastic participant in the larger Austin food community as well as the Dames. Denice was responsible for helping lead the Austin Dames through a productive period that included the LDEI conference in Austin in October 2013, where she was conference co-chair and chapter delegate.

Denice was born in Canyon, Texas, and lived much of her professional life in the state. According to her daughter Danielle, her interest in all things culinary began early—she created her first royal-icing rose at 4 years old. Denice received her culinary degree from Le Chef College of Culinary Arts in Austin and was an IACP Certified Culinary Professional (CCP). During her career, she was pastry chef at Sodexo and Dell in Austin, and executive chef at Caruth Haven Court in Dallas and The Inn on the Creek in Salado. She worked in the Central Market Cooking Schools in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin, where she was a particular favorite of Martin Yan when he came to teach. Denice was culinary instructor at Tarrant County College in Arlington, and pastry instructor at Texas Culinary Academy (now Le Cordon Bleu) in Austin. Additionally, she was chef/proprietor of Friendship House B&B in Salado.

Two days after Denice’s death, the Austin chapter held its scheduled annual spring meeting at Dame Iliana de la Vega’s restaurant, El Naranjo, an event that Denice had helped plan. Fellow Dames gathered together to remember and celebrate Denice, who loved being our president and who served valiantly to the end. In addition to her family of Austin Dames, Denice is survived by her daughter Danielle Woods and son Josh Woods.

A memorial service will be held at 2 pm, May 24 at the Belton Church of Christ, 3003 N. Main, Belton, Texas. 

Plans also are being made for an Austin gathering in Denice's honor July 7 at Central Market Cooking School. Details to come later.

Food writer and culinary historian MM Pack is a contributor to the Austin Chronicle as well as an active member of Les Dames d' Escoffier. A version of this obituary will run in the LDEI quarterly magazine, as well.

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