Gary Rhodes dies age 59: His incredible impact on the British food scene

November 27, 2019 10:27:31 AM

Gary Rhodes, the spiky-haired, irrepressible chef who darted around our screens during the Nineties, has died in Dubai.

In a statement,  his family said: “The Rhodes family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of beloved husband, father and brother, Gary Rhodes OBE.

“Gary passed away last evening, Tuesday 26th November 2019, at the age of 59, with his beloved wife Jennie by his side. The family would like to thank everyone for their support and ask for privacy during this time.”

A culinary legend, these are just few of the things the chef did for the British food scene…

He was arguably TV’s first professional chef. Rhodes became a household name in the 1990s following head chef stints at several top bill restaurants, including the Greenhouse Restaurant in Mayfair, and the Castle Hotel – where aged just 26 he retained its Michelin star.

The man magically brought alive the food in Roald Dahl’s books – from Willy Wonka’s lickable wallpaper to the colossal chocolate cake in Matilda – in Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes: As Presented by Gary Rhodes on BBC.

So many British chefs trained with and worked alongside Rhodes, including the likes of Nathan Outlaw and Tom Kerridge – both of whom are now acclaimed restaurateurs in their own right, and help fill up our book shelves with their recipe collections too. There was also his longtime public friendship (and rivalry) with Gordon Ramsay, who has posted on Twitter: “We lost a fantastic chef today in Gary Rhodes. He was a chef who put British Cuisine on the map. Sending all the love and prayers to your wife and kids. You’ll be missed Gx”

Rhodes worked in schools in an effort to actively get kids – particularly boys – cooking. He saw it as a way to pass on a lifelong skill, encourage creativity and potentially bolster the catering industry in the future.

The Nineties and Noughties wouldn’t have been the same without him appearing on TV shows like Rhodes Around Britain, MasterChef, Hell’s Kitchen, and Great British Menu.

Rhodes was, above all, a huge champion of classic British dishes. He took staple British fare – from chip butties to bread and butter pudding – and elevated them, without ruining them, or overcomplicating them.