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  1. ITV Report

'Gent and genius': TV chef Gary Rhodes dies aged 59 in Dubai

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

TV chef Gary Rhodes has died at the age of 59, his family have announced.

The celebrity chef was best known for appearing on MasterChef, Hell's Kitchen and MasterChef USA.

He passed away in Dubai on Tuesday night with his "beloved wife Jennie by his side."

The hotel where he was working in Dubai said the chef was working "until the day he died."

Gordon Ramsey and Tom Kerridge are among the culinary stars who have paid tribute to "one of the greatest British chefs."

Rhodes standing alongside heavyweight chefs Heston Blumenthal and Michel Roux Jnr. Credit: PA

In a statement, the family of Gary Rhodes 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."

Gary Rhodes received an OBE in 2006. Credit: PA

In 2006 Rhodes was awarded an OBE and in archive ITV News footage he expresses his humble joy at being awarded the honour.

"It was a real shock, I just could not believe it, it's something you don't even dream of, I felt immediately is this true and at the same time feeling very, very proud," Rhodes said.

"I thought the ultimate would be achieving a Michelin star but to have something that has surpassed it is just quite unbelievable and I am a very proud young man."

  • Gary Rhodes speaks about honour of being awarded an OBE in 2006

A statement from Grosvenor House Dubai and Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa, where Rhodes worked, said: "The team... 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."

A number of chefs offered their heartfelt tributes to Rhodes, including Gordon Ramsay, who heralded his love for British cuisine.

"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," Ramsey wrote on Twitter.

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Ready Steady Cook chef Ainsley Harriott told ITV News that Rhodes will be remembered for pioneering British cuisine, at a time when European dishes were at the fore.

He said: "He's going to leave behind a legacy of being able to make British food trendy again, we went through a period when everything was all about French cuisine and Italian cuisine, different types of cuisine around the world and we all forgot about what was happening at home.

"He's just left behind some absolute wonderful, wonderful dishes to make us proud to be British."

Loyd Grossman said the spikey-haired chef "immediately attracted attention" when he came to London, after having worked in the country.

"He was full of energy and enthusiasm, but most importantly he was one of the first chefs to really encourage us to rediscover how great British cooking was," Grossman told ITV News.

"He was great fun, he was exactly as you saw. In the world of chefs, it's full of big egos unsurprisingly and sometimes very aggressive behaviour and what was interesting about Gary was that he was thorough gent, he was a really nice, decent person and he had both great enthusiasm and great subtlety and great gentleness and he was just a total joy to work with."

While Jamie Oliver posted on Instagram: "Sadly Chef Gary Rhodes OBE passed away. My heart felt sympathies to his wife , kids, friends and family, sending love and thoughts.

"Gary was a fantastic chef and incredible ambassador for British cooking, he was a massive inspiration to me as a young chef. He reimagined modern British cuisine with elegance and fun rest in peace Chef."

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Tom Kerridge said it had been an "honour" to have worked in his kitchen and credited the TV chef for "single handedly put[ting] British food on the world stage."

Kerridge wrote: "I’m deeply shocked and hugely saddened to hear the tragic news about Gary Rhodes. He is one of the greatest British chefs who almost single handedly put British food on the world stage. Taking simple ingredients, embracing classic dishes & making something world class.

"Many chefs have been through his kitchen, myself included. I consider it to be an honour to have stood alongside him at the pass. My thoughts go out to family and close friends for their huge loss."

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Simon Hulstone tweeted: "Very sad to get a message this morning from Dubai informing me of the brilliant Chef and mentor Gary Rhodes passing last night. What a shining star for British gastronomy. Rest well Chef."

Daniel Clifford posted: "Rest in peace a true British classic Gary Rhodes you open the door for so many young English cooks."

While Ainsley Harriott tweeted: "So sad to hear the news about Gary Rhodes. A true culinary icon and a lovely man. Sending my love and thoughts to his wife Jennie and their boys. RIP, my friend. xx"

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Jaideep Bhatia, PR director of the Grosvenor House Dubai, said Mr Rhodes was working "until the day he died".

He said: "He arrived in Dubai in 2007 and had two restaurants, Rhodes 2010 at Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa, and Rhodes W1 at the Grosvenor.

"He was working until the day he died. He was working until Tuesday."

Mr Bhatia said he was unable to confirm any further details about Mr Rhodes' death, as everything else had to come "from the family".

Gary Rhodes celebrates the opening of his Dublin restaurant in 2006. Credit: PA

The celebrity chef featured in his own series, Rhodes Around Britain, and owned four restaurants.

The Michelin-starred chef was known for his love of British cuisine and his distinctive spiked hairstyle and has also appeared on Strictly Come Dancing.

In 1979, right at the beginning of his cooking career, he was involved in a serious accident in Amsterdam.

He was left with serious injuries and came close to death, but fortunately made a full recovery and was able to forge a successful career in the culinary world.

A production company that was working with Rhodes on a new TV series said he was suddenly taken ill during a break in filming.

Rock Oyster Media and Goldfinch TV said in a statement to the PA news agency: "Gary was in the middle of filming a wonderful new series with Rock Oyster Media for ITV from his base in Dubai.

"All at Rock Oyster Media and Goldfinch are devastated by this tragic news. Gary was taken ill very suddenly at home during a break in filming and died a short time afterwards.

"Production was obviously halted as soon as Gary was taken ill and members of the Rock Oyster Team remain in Dubai to support the family as best they can."