Jerome "Chef" McElroy was a recurring character on the Comedy Central series South Park. He was voiced by Isaac Hayes. Chef, as his nickname implied, worked as an elementary school cafeteria worker in the town of South Park, Colorado. Generally portrayed as more level-headed than the other adult residents of the town, Chef's guidance was often sought by the show's core group of child protagonists – Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick – as he was usually the only adult they consistently trusted. To an inadvertent fault, he would frequently give inappropriate advice, usually in the non sequitur form of a lascivious soul song.
Chef was inspired by Hayes and other popular soul singers of the 1970s, as well as an actual dining hall worker encountered by series co-creator Trey Parker while he attended the University of Colorado. Chef played a less prominent role as the series progressed beyond its earlier seasons, and the character was killed off in the beginning of the tenth season in "The Return of Chef", in response to public controversy with Hayes, who left the show after the controversial episode "Trapped in the Closet", which satirized Scientology.
In tradition with the show's animation style, Chef is composed of simple geometrical shapes, and is animated with use of a computer, though he is given the impression of being a construction paper cutout composition animated through the use of stop motion, which was the technique used to animate the "Spirit of Christmas" shorts and the show's first episode. Chef is an overweight Afro-Scot (born in America) who commonly wears blue pants and a red shirt. He wears a beard, and frequently dons a traditional chef's hat, even when he is not at work.
Until Token Black and his family had a more notable role starting in the show's fourth season, Chef was portrayed as the only black resident in all of South Park. Parker and co-creator Matt Stone initially planned to have one of themselves voice the character, fearing that their ideal candidates of Hayes, Lou Rawls, and Barry White would never agree to voice the character because the duo had admittedly and purposefully created him as a "stereotype" to reflect what they felt was the perception most inhabitants of less-diverse mountainous Colorado towns had of black people. However, Hayes agreed to voice the character due in part to the audacity of some of the show's early scripts. Chef (usually kindheartedly, though not always) referred to most people in town with the racial slur "crackas", including the children.
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