What character on “South Park” was voiced by an Academy Award winner?

Answer: The right answer is Chef Jerome McElroy.

Jerome “Chef” McElroy

Jerome McElroy, commonly referred to as Chef, was a recurring character in South Park. He was most famous for being the South Park Elementary cafeteria chef and the boys’ go-to guy for advice, which would often result into him breaking into songs about sex. He first appeared in the Season One episode, “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe”.

Chef was killed off in the Season Ten debut episode, “The Return of Chef”, following controversy with Isaac Hayes, who left the series after the episode, “Trapped in the Closet” aired, due to its portrayal of Scientology.

As his nickname implies, Chef was a school cafeteria cook at the South Park Elementary School and former member of City Council as “Head of Public Safety”. He was the only adult that the boys (Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny) consistently looked to for advice. A typical exchange between Chef and the boys goes as such:

Chef: “Hello there, children!”

Boys: [in unison] “Hey, Chef.”

Chef: “How’s it goin’?”

Boys: [one or all] “Bad.”

Chef: “Why bad?”

Chef used the word “children” often, even for a singular child. For example, he referred to Cartman as “children” in “Cartman’s Mom is a Dirty Slut” and “Spontaneous Combustion,” Stan in “Kenny Dies,” and Butters in “The Simpsons Already Did It”. He also tended to use “fudge” as a euphemism for “fuck,” particularly in early episodes. The various humorously named snacks he made in “Chef’s Chocolate Salty Balls” epitomized this.

While most of the inhabitants of South Park are Caucasian, Chef was one of the very few residents in town who was African American; in fact, the only other black people to consistently live in South Park are Token and his parents, who were not prominent characters until the fourth season. As a result, Chef (usually affectionately, though not always) referred to most people in town with the racial slur “crackers”, often “cracker-ass”, including the children.

Aside from cooking, Chef was passionate about singing – he wrote the song, “Stinky Britches” which was later covered by Alanis Morissette. He was based on such 1970s African American singers as Isaac Hayes and Barry White. Often, he agreed to give the boys advice in the form of songs but wound up singing about having sex. However, over time, like many earlier characters on the show, his role, especially as a singer, diminished, and in later seasons he did not sing much. By the time his death occurred, he had not sung any songs in 4 years or so.

Despite his preoccupations with women and sex, Chef was generally one of the few level-headed adults in South Park. In addition to dispensing advice to “the children”, Chef spoke out against outrageous ideas and helped save South Park/the world in general from disasters on numerous occasions. However, Chef was not above performing nonsensical acts, such as buying a fancy TV that he couldn’t even program.

In earlier seasons, Chef was often approached by the children when they were unfamiliar with a sexual term or practice. This happened so often that it eventually got on Chef’s nerves, leading him to say, “Goddammit, children, why do I always have to be the one to teach you these things?”, but went on to explain to them whatever they wanted to know anyway.

Chef’s last name suggests he could be at least partially of some Celtic descent, and indeed his parents live in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In “Chef Goes Nanners”, he briefly converted to Islam and adopted the name “Abdul Mohammed Jabar Rauf Kareem Ali”, but converted back to Christianity by the end of the episode.

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