Mr. Beef Founder Joe Zucchero — Who Inspired FX's 'The Bear' —  Dies at 69


Mar. 7 2023, Published 12:17 p.m. ET

In a sudden shock to food lovers everywhere, Joe Zucchero — best known as the founder of the Italian beef food stand Mr. Beef, which first went into operation in Chicago in 1979 — died at 69 on March 1.

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Fans of the food stand and family members have begun an outpouring of tributes to the late culinary artist, who was also the inspiration for the hit FX series The Bear.

But what was Joe Zucchero's cause of death? Here's everything you need to know.

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What was Joe Zucchero's cause of death?

An obituary by Cooney Funeral Home confirms the news of Joe's death, reading, "Joseph Zachary Zucchero passed away unexpectedly on March 1, 2023, at the age of 69. His loved ones are deeply saddened and shocked by his sudden death."

According to, Joe Zucchero was rushed to the hospital on March 1 after battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for nearly 20 years.

Before he became Mr. Beef, Joe was raised on the Northwest Side of Chicago before moving to Park Ridge in the 1970s. He started his career as a butcher for the local grocery store chain Dominick's before opening Mr. Beef with his brother Dominic in 1979, per CBS News.

Mr. Beef's signature dish is thin-sliced slivers of beef soaked in jus, a traditional Italian-American community dish, reports

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Fans of Joe Zucchero's food might not know that he was also the inspiration behind FX's critically acclaimed show The Bear, starring Jeremy Allen White. Chris Zucchero, Joe's son, is close friends with The Bear's creator Chris Storer.

Both families grew up in Park Ridge, although Chris Zucchero says that Storer did not consult with the Zucchero family while writing the pilot of the show. Chris Zucchero also told his father visited The Bear's set frequently despite his battle with cancer.

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Joe is survived by "his loving wife Camille (née Eng) of 45 years, as well as his children, Christopher (Kacey), and Lauren, siblings Dominic (Dee) Zucchero and Claudine Grippo, and beloved dogs Bama, Bailey, and Vinnie," per Cooney Funeral Home. He is also survived by "his mother-in-law Rita Eng, brother-in-law James Eng, and nephews Zachary and Nicholas Eng."

A visitation and funeral service will take place on March 11, 2023. Visitation starts at 9:30 a.m. and runs until 11:30 a.m., at which point the funeral will begin. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Joe's honor to One Tail At A Time.

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