It was with heavy heart that I received the news Monday night that food writer/critic Josh Ozersky had died. The gregarious writer for Esquire magazine was found dead in his Chicago hotel. He was visiting for the 25th annual James Beard Awards.

A James Beard Award winner and founding editor of New York Magazine’s food blog, Grub Street, Ozersky, 47, was one of the best and most visible (and often polarizing) writers in the business, but you always knew where he stood, and he was never scared to display vulnerability. He wrote with passion and authority.

Ozersky, whose books included "Meat Me in Manhattan" and "The Hamburger: A History," brought his meat-loving festival, Meatopia, to San Antonio’s Pearl Brewery in 2013. The writer moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon last year, and had signed on to write a meat-centric book with Dallas chef John Tesar, who has a burger named after Ozersky at his restaurant, Knife.

"Josh was not only a friend, he was my brother. He knew me like no one else," Tesar wrote me in an email Tuesday. "We both came from the same place and loved many of the same things. I miss him dearly, and I will long for his witty banter and intellectual prowess. He taught me how to make the perfect hamburger and would push me as a chef and as a friend, and challenge me to be a better person. Despite his rough-around-the-edges persona, he was the best at his craft, and he will be missed by many. To quote Tony Bourdain, ‘He was the Lester Bangs of food writers,’ and I loved him and could call him a real friend."

Ozersky’s body will be examined Tuesday. A cause of death was not named.

Related: Statesman Shots podcast co-host Tolly Moseley remembers Ozersky, with whom she formed a relationship in 2012.