March 18, 1959 ~ June 26, 2020

Born in: Gastonia, NC
Resided in: Asheville, NC

Rick McDaniel, 61, of Asheville, slipped the bonds of this earth suddenly and unexpectedly June 26, 2020.

The son of Joe and Josie McDaniel of Kings Mountain, he was a true Southern raconteur, a genuine wit who could talk about any subject and make it fascinating and funny. He was best known as a culinary historian of Southern foodways, food columnist and dining critic, whose works appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times and Gaston Gazette. He was the author of two books, “An Irresistible History of Southern Food: Four Centuries of Black-Eyed Peas, Collard Greens and Whole Hog Barbecue” (History Press, 2011, still available in paperback) and “Asheville Food: A History of High Country Cuisine,” also still in print, with a forward by his dear friend Julie Stehling.

Rick worked in journalism his entire career, starting with his roles as managing editor and photo editor of The Carolinian during his time at Western Carolina University. He did a stint as an Associated Press photographer.

His accomplishments were many. He was a self-taught chef who studied his craft in a scholarly manner. He collected many Southern and family recipes, available on, including his Aunt Ruth’s World Famous Sweet Potato Pie, which literally has been baked and savored around the world, judging from correspondence he received thanking him for the recipe. No one who dined at his table ever went away hungry or disappointed. He was an outstanding baker as well.

He was proud of his accomplishment as an Eagle Scout. He formerly served as a lieutenant on the Kings Mountain Rescue Squad.

Beyond all this, Rick was a gentle soul and a friend to all. He was an historian as well, with a wide breadth of knowledge.

Blindness changed his life in so many tragic ways when he was only 39 years old.

Left to cherish his memory are his son, Morgan Joseph McDaniel of Asheville, and Morgan’s fiancée Maggie Shelton; former wife Polly Harrison McDaniel; sister Cathy Campbell and brother-in-law Darrell Campbell; sister-in-law Julie Saunders and nephews Will and Harrison Saunders.

Rick was beloved by too many friends to mention but we will name some particularly dear to his heart, including Saundra and Hughes Grogan, Royce and Maria Smith, Maranda Everson, Leslie Hammond, John Masters, and John and Julie Stehling. And all of his friends at IFB.

Graveside services will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, July 3, at Riverside Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to blindness research at Johns Hopkins University Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences, 855 North Wolfe Street, Rangos 550, Baltimore, MD 21205, 443-287-0581.


Graveside Service: July 3, 2020 4:00 pm

Riverside Cemetery
53 Birch Street
Asheville, NC 28801


Funeral Home Assisting The Family:

Groce Funeral Home - Patton Ave.
1401 Patton Ave.
Asheville, NC 28806


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  1. Rick was a true Southern gentleman, caring and kind, always looking for the best in those around him, and always willing to cook a good meal to enjoy with friends.

  2. Oh, the stories! His book is a great read — and a huge memorial to his wit, historical knowledge and love of food. God be with you, Polly and Morgan.

  3. We enjoyed having Rick as a neighbor and friend. He was a great one to fill us in on local history, restaurants, and sights. He was charming, very funny, an outstanding cook, and he deeply loved his family.

  4. The world seems a less without you here
    Less bright, less joyfully, less laughter, Just less
    Safe Journey Dear Friend

  5. The moment that sticks in my memories of Rick: Gazette was having big event in parking lot and someone collapsed. Rick jumped to his aid. Someone said call an ambulance. Rick, a trained paramedic, said he would only turn his patient over to a doctor. And on top of that he was a great photojournalist
    RIP. Comfort to family and friends.

  6. An author, EMT, Photo Journalist, Volunteer Firefighter, Chef, a connoisseur of old whiskeys, beers and fine cigars, musician, and the best friend one could ever want. He was a storyteller par excellence. We talked regularly over the years since we were about 8 years old, but during the pandemic most every day. Most of those calls started with, “You’re never going to believe….” and a funny story would come spinning out. A favorite author of mine wrote, “Being a true friend is an art, having one is a gift.” Rick was one of my greatest gifts. Rest easy Wahoo.

  7. I knew Rick as we graduated High School together in 1977 and he later served with me on the Kings Mtn Rescue Squad. Great memories for many years. Rest in Peace my friend!

  8. Rick was a treasure. I think of him often when I’m in the kitchen, and especially when perusing his fabulous cookbook, “An Irresistible History of Southern Food: Four Centuries of Black-Eyed Peas, Collard Greens & Whole Hog Barbecue”. It is one of my favorites as it is filled with stories and history. And of course because I knew the sweet, smart, wonderful author. My heart aches for all who loved him.

  9. I am quite beyond words as my words would fall short of what Rick deserves. There is a hole in my life that cannot be filled. Rest now, Brother. Walk without pain, take a deep breath and see the rainbow of colors. Tell JM hi for us. Polly, Morgan, Cathy…all our love.

  10. So glad I got to see him at our high school class reunion. Rick was a very kind and gentle soul. Praying for his family.

    Derice Stroupe Ellis

  11. Words fail. We’ll miss your wit and so much more. Blessings and peace dear Rick Rest well. we’ll meet again.l

  12. Rick was such a joy to be around. He helped through my divorce by listening and going to eat. I love him. Morgan, he loved you so much and will be watching you. I lost my mother some years ago and still miss her, mainly when I want to ask a question. Polly and Morgan, I love you both.

  13. I’m afraid the world will be a little less kind without you my friend. And goodness knows we need all the kindness we can muster right now. We go back to our elementary years. And I knew in those days I had made a friend. While we didn’t get together much throughout the years, I was always confident that you were out there somewhere telling a great story and laughing! I will especially cherish our dinners in recent years in Asheville. Thanks for always sharing great places to eat! Rest easy my Brother. I will see you at the appointed time my friend.

  14. Rick’s book, “An Irresistible History of Southern Food,” was so aptly named. The book, all of Rick’s writing, his cooking, his zest, his conversation were truly irresistible. His memory will be a blessing.

  15. To the Family: I am so sorry for your loss as I remember Ricky he was such a sweet person who got along with everyone. He was always so friendly and pleasant as I remember him from school as he was my classmate as we graduated together in 1977. I am so glad I got to see him at the class reunion and even sat at the same table with him and we talked. He will truly be missed such a sweet and good fellow.

    Cherry (Davis) Adams

  16. Of the hundreds of people I met while attending Western Carolina University, Rick “Wahoo” McDaniel was one of the very few I remember well. We worked together on the student newspaper — The Western Carolinian. Rick was an awesome photographer and I always remember his keen wit and his ability to see humor in the most difficult of circumstances. May he rest in peace and see every day in living color.


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