Pam Sherman passes on

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February 17, 2003 // UPDATED 4:51 pm - April 27, 2007
By: sue rich
sue rich

Tearful goodbyes to the woman who made Downtown taste better

Nearly 250 people gathered Feb. 12 at the Downtown's Illusion Theater to remember Pam Sherman -- a risk-taking, trend-setting and beloved artist/chef often credited with making the city's restaurant scene what it is today.

Sherman. 62, died of bile duct cancer earlier this month in Tijuana, Mexico. Friends acknowledge that she was there for specialized treatment and the chance to catch a few rays in her dwindling days.

Illusion's Executive Producer Director Michael Robbins, 52, first met Sherman when he was 19. They were members of a small street theater troupe that regularly protested the Vietnam War.

Robbins and Sherman again found themselves making local history in the mid-70s when Robbins opened the Illusion Theater above Sherman's New French Caf in the Warehouse District -- back when it was really filled with warehouses.

Robbins said he and the other handful of artists in the area couldn't afford the finer offerings in Sherman's restaurant, but they were always up for a beer from the bar and a good croissant. "Back then, people didn't even know what a croissant was," he added as an example of how Sherman's French flare influenced the Minneapolis restaurant scene.

Tens of thousands of dollars contributed during December's "Raising Dough" bake sale at Uptown's Chino Latino helped Sherman pay for her Mexican trip and treatment. Hundreds of restaurant owners, chefs and patrons had contributed or purchased baked goods. According to Robbins many visual and performing artists were also volunteering their time to "schlep things around that day."

The week before she left, Robbins and two other close friends took Sherman to a movie at Block E. "It was "Catch Me If You Can,'" said Robbins, "Very funny."

Robbins said Sherman was in high spirits, "she always had a great sense of humor."

This spirit and sense of humor, he said, was reflected in her Feb. 12 memorial, despite a good deal of sadness. The memorial eulogy was given by Barbara Camms, who reminded those in attendance that Sherman, who also worked at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, was an excellent painter, "An artist in everything that she did."

"Anyone who knew her spirit wouldn't cotton to moping around," said Robbins. "She will be missed."

Shortly before her illness was diagnosed, Sherman wrote the "Food" column for Skyway News. At the time, she was working at the University of Minnesota and was excited about helping Downtown workers, residents and shoppers pick out the best meals and freshest food at the Nicollet Mall Farmer's Market. The staff of Skyway News mourns her passing and offers our condolences to her family and friends, and all others whose lives she touched.