‘The ICU is a nightmare’: Spouse thanks group after husband and Regina chef dies of COVID-19

Friends and family say if there was ever someone who could make you want to take a trip from Regina to New Orleans, it was Warren Montgomery.

“Mama Montgomery was his inspiration for cooking and he just missed his home cooking that he couldn’t get here,” his wife Roshelle said.

Montgomery grew up in New Orleans before moving to Regina in 2010 when he met Roshelle.

A few years later he became known as the owner and chef of The Big Easy Kitchen, bringing the flavours of New Orleans to the Queen City.

But on Tuesday the 42-year-old died in hospital after battling the coronavirus variant first identified in the U.K.

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“It was surreal. The ICU is a nightmare. I’ve never seen anything like that, a nightmare with angels working in it. This is the only way I can explain it,” Roshelle said.

“It was only a matter of minutes until he was gone.”

Roshelle says both Montgomery, herself and their two daughters all tested positive for the virus earlier this month. She says her and her daughters are recovering well.

But last week, Montgomery was taken to the Regina General Hospital after he had a hard time breathing.

“He was coughing so hard till he would throw up, and then once that would happen, he couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t catch his breath,” Roshelle said.

“It got to the point where he couldn’t say a sentence like he had to struggle with each word.”

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Although she couldn’t be by his side until the end, Roshelle praises the nurses and staff for the level of care her husband received.

“The nurses were amazing, they kept me up to date. I could call any time of day as many times as I want,” Roshelle said.

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“He has a large family across North America. They were all able to call, get updates, talk to him, face time with him.”

Those who knew Montgomery describe him as hardworking, funny and a champion for Regina’s food scene.

“He was always trying to establish his brand and tried to be the best that he could be,” said Brandon Brooks, his close friend.

“He had a dream. I’ve never met anyone in my lifetime so far to actually, like, chase this dream of trying to be this chef and bringing Louisiana cuisine to Saskatchewan.”

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Brooks who is also from Louisiana, says he met Montgomery in 2011 at a Football Saskatchewan coach’s convention.

“I at that time was coaching minor football and he was coaching minor football also,” Brooks said.

“Some brothers come up here and play ball or stuff, but to meet a brother from Louisiana living here permanently, it was it was refreshing.”

Brooks said over the past year, Montgomery’s business really started to take off.

When COVID first hit and the crawfish boils had to take a back seat, Montgomery started putting his product in stores.

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“He just never gave up. If he was knocked down, he was back up with a new idea, a new plan,” Roshelle said.

A GoFundMe has now raised more than $28,000 as of Wednesday afternoon.

Local restaurants are also honouring Montgomery’s legacy through fundraisers of their own, including Meld Neighbourhood Eatery, Local and Fresh and Agave Authentic Mexican Grill.

“I don’t know how to thank everybody. They’ve really restored my faith in humanity at such a terrible time,” Roshelle said.

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