Chef Gary Rhodes dies aged 59

27 November 2019 by

Legendary chef and restaurateur Gary Rhodes OBE has died aged 59.

A statement from the 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 26 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 restaurateur, chef, television celebrity and author of 18 cookery books, Rhodes spearheaded the 1990s revival of traditional British cuisine.

Gary Rhodes was born in 1960 in London and brought up in Gillingham, Kent. After training at Thanet technical college, he secured his first job as a commis chef at the Amsterdam Hilton hotel. Returning to London, he worked as a sous chef at the Reform Club in Pall Mall and at the Capital hotel in Knightsbridge.

In 1986 he became head chef at the Castle hotel in Taunton, Somerset, where he developed his passion for British food and retained the hotel's Michelin star at the age of 26. In 1988 he was awarded The Caterer's Acorn Award for rising stars under the age of 30, the same year as chefs Nick Nairn and Bruno Loubet.

In 1990 he returned to London as head chef of the Greenhouse restaurant in Mayfair, which won its first Michelin star in 1996 - the same year he won the Cateys Special Award.

1997 saw the first fruits of a six-year relationship with contract caterer Sodexo (then called Gardner Merchant). Together they launched two fine-dining restaurants, City Rhodes and Rhodes in the Square, and two brasseries called Rhodes & Co.

The partnership with Sodexo was dissolved in 2003. The same year Rhodes linked up with Compass Group's fine-dining arm, Restaurant Associates, to launch Rhodes 24 at Tower 42, London's tallest building, again winning a Michelin star in 2005. It was a trick he was to repeat in 2008 when the Restaurant Associates-owned Rhodes W1 at the Cumberland hotel, which opened a year earlier, also picked up a star.

In 2004 Rhodes opened his first overseas restaurant, at the Calabash hotel in the Caribbean, and the following year Arcadian Rhodes, his first ocean-going restaurant, later adding a second on the P&O cruise liner Oriana.

Rhodes was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in 2006.

He made his Irish debut in July 2006 with Rhodes D7, before opening in Dubai, with Rhodes Mezzanine, in 2007; D7 closed in January 2009.

From 2008 until 2010 he also operated two restaurants on the south coast: King Rhodes and Rhodes South, both in Christchurch, Dorset.

He has fronted shows such as MasterChef, Hell's Kitchen and his own series, Rhodes Around Britain.

Rhodes moved to Dubai in 2011 and in more recent years served as a Roux Scholarship judge; launched ThEATre by Rhodes in partnership with Vox Cinemas; and operated restaurants in Marriott hotels in Dubai including Rhodes W1 at the Grosvenor House hotel and Rhodes Twenty10 at the Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa.

A statement from the hotels said: "The team at Grosvenor House Dubai and Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa are devastated to hear of the tragic passing of chef Gary Rhodes OBE. Not only has the industry lost a true culinary legend, we have also lost an inspirational human being and a very dear friend. No words can express our sadness at Gary's death or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with him. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Rhodes family."

Rhodes leaves behind his wife Jennie and two sons, Sam and George.

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