The world of culinary arts and politics was shocked and saddened by the news of the death of Tafari Campbell, a former White House chef who served as the personal chef of Barack and Michelle Obama. Campbell, 45, drowned while paddle boarding near the Obamas’ summer home on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, on Sunday.

Campbell was a talented and creative chef who had a passion for food and its ability to bring people together. He worked as a sous chef in the White House kitchen during Obama’s eight years in office, where he helped create some of the most memorable presidential dishes, such as a beer brewed from honey harvested from the beehives on the South Lawn.

He also had a close relationship with the Obamas, who described him as a “warm, fun, extraordinarily kind person who made all of our lives a little brighter” in a statement released on Monday.

When the Obamas left the White House in 2016, they asked Campbell to stay with them as their personal chef, and he agreed. He moved with them to their Washington D.C. home and accompanied them on their travels and vacations. Campbell was visiting Martha’s Vineyard from his home in Virginia when the tragic accident occurred. He was paddle boarding with another person on Edgartown Great Pond, a large lake near the Obamas’ 30-acre estate, when he went into the water and did not resurface.

He was wearing all black and did not have a life jacket on. His board and hat were found shortly after the emergency was reported. A massive search operation involving divers, Coast Guard helicopters, and multiple agencies was launched from the Obamas’ property on Sunday night and continued until Monday morning, when his body was found using sonar scanners at a depth of about eight feet and about 100 feet from shore.

The Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit is investigating his death, but it is believed to have been an accident. The Obamas were not home at the time of the incident, but they expressed their grief and condolences to Campbell’s family in their statement. Campbell is survived by his wife Sherise and their twin boys, Xavier and Savin.

Campbell’s death is a tragic loss for his family, friends, colleagues, and admirers. He was a man who dedicated his life to serving others with his culinary skills and his kindness. He will be remembered as a beloved part of the Obama family and a respected member of the White House staff. He will be missed by many who knew and loved him.

Rest in peace, Tafari Campbell. Thank you for your service and your smile.

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