Peter B. Wolf, 86, a Certified Executive Chef who worked in the hotel and restaurant industry for 60 years, died on May 3, 2023, after a brief illness. Peter worked most notably at the Student Prince and Fort Restaurant in Springfield, MA, from 1964 to 1969 and again from 1972 to 1980, developing a close relationship to the restaurant's erstwhile owners, the late Rupert Scherff and his son Rudi Scherff, who died in 2021. Peter was born in Leipzig, Germany on May 8, 1936, he was the son of the late Elfriede (Engert) Wolf and Berthold Wolf. His early life was marked by the Second World War and its aftermath. In 1949, when he was 12, his family decided to flee to West Germany during a time when the border could still be crossed at most points. His father crossed over in February of that year. Peter would cross by himself in mid-March, and his mother and sister would leave together in April. His father made it across without incident, but young Peter was detained by Russian soldiers and held in the basement of a building and interrogated for four days. Having stuck to a story he had repeatedly rehearsed with his father the soldiers finally released him into the woods after he convinced them that he was going to visit his father in West Germany. The soldiers tossed him into a stream along with his backpack. Cold and wet, he crossed the stream and walked in the dark for hours before coming across a house with a light on. He was taken in by a woman, who looked after him, bathed and fed him. The next day, she contacted West German authorities, who put him on a train to Recklinghausen, where his father was waiting for him. His mother and sister successfully crossed over four weeks later. Now reunited with his family in West Germany, after finishing the 9th grade, he left school at age 15 to take an apprenticeship at the Hotel Continental in Munster. He completed the apprenticeship in 1954, earning the title of "cook." During a 10-month stint working on a Greek passenger ship, he crossed the Atlantic 17 times between Bremerhaven, Germany, and Montreal, Quebec. Always interested in learning more about the intricacies of the culinary profession, which he considered "an art," he repeatedly applied for new positions in the profession he so loved. His experience and the desire to realize his dreams as a chef took him around the globe to places like the Hotel Nutibara, in Medellin, Colombia, the Sheraton hotels of Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Binghamton, N.Y., and finally Springfield, MA. He also worked at the Americana Hotel in Miami Beach, the Bradley Field Terrace Dining Room in Windsor Locks, CT., where he was assistant manager, and at many restaurants in Western Massachusetts, including the Student Prince and Fort Restaurant.
After leaving the Student Prince in 1980, he held various positions as a consultant, instructor and manager at the USAF HQ Strategic Air Command (USAF SAC) in Belleview, Nebraska, and a similar position at Headquarters United States Marine Corps (HQUSMC) in Washington D.C. In July 1985, his job finally took him back to his native Germany after he accepted a position at the USA Community and Family Support Center Europe (USACFSCE) in Frankfurt, Germany, as well as at the 104th Area Support Group in Hanau, Germany. He and his wife, Karen Gilfoil Wolf, travelled extensively and were very enthusiastic about visiting new countries and learning more about their cultures and customs (especially the food). Peter loved cooking, even when cooking 'just for one'. He frequently whipped up sumptuous meals for visitors, who would be hard pressed to tell whether they were made from fresh ingredients or from whatever he could find in the refrigerator. Peter Wolf was a Lifetime Member of the World Association of Chefs Societies, the American Culinary Federation, and a contributing member of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. He retired in 2000 after a total of 20 years of employment with the United States Department of Defense, moving with his family back to the U.S. to live in Farmingdale, Maine. He often described his years working as a "civilian non-appropriated fund employee" as one of the most rewarding experiences of his culinary career. Over his life, he worked both as a cook and as a chef. The cook, he would say, is the 'tradesman' and the chef manages the restaurant's kitchen. He said he was lucky to have worked more years as a chef because he enjoyed both cooking and organizing the kitchen. Peter met Karen while both were working at the Student Prince. They wed on June 6, 1981 and would remain happily married until her death in 2011, after which he moved to Chicopee, MA. to be closer to relatives and friends. Peter and Karen have two daughters, Katherine N. of Vernal, Utah, and Katelyn A. of Westerly, RI. and his grandson, Cameron. Peter also leaves several cousins and nephews Germany. In the U.S., he regarded Karen's brothers and their families as his own. He also had a large circle of close friends, many of whom he had known as far back as 1959. Peter will be buried next to Karen at Hillcrest Park Cemetery in Springfield at a later date. He asked that there be no services or visiting hours. In lieu of flowers, contributions should be made in memory and in honor of Karen Gilfoil Wolf to the American Cancer Society. Another of Peter's final requests was for friends to place a single red rose at the burial site of his dear friend Sandee Cofrancesco in the "St. Gemma" section, Plot 52 of St. Thomas Cemetery in West Springfield.