Iconic British chef, restaurateur, and spiky-haired trendsetter Gary Rhodes OBE has sadly passed away aged 59, with his beloved wife Jennie by his side in his home of Dubai, where he ran two restaurants.
A statement from the Rhodes 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”.
Beloved by British foodies all across the country since he stormed onto the scene in the early 1990s, Rhodes first appeared on television in the late 80s at the age of 27 on Hot Chef, and thanks to his winning personality and charismatic television presence, it wasn’t long before he got the chance to host his own cooking shows, Rhodes Around Britain and Gary’s Perfect Christmas. It was here that we all gladly welcomed Gary Rhodes into our living rooms and kitchens, and in turn, our hearts.
Spearheading the revival of traditional British cuisine in the early 90s, Gary Rhodes was considered by many as a true pioneer, opening the door for so many of the country’s rising stars in the culinary world who all grew up wanting to be just like him.
Born in 1960 in south London, Rhodes was raised in Gillingham, Kent, and trained at Thanet Technical College, before securing his first professional job as a commis chef at the Amsterdam Hilton hotel. After his stint here, he returned to London to work as a sous chef at the Reform Club in Pall Mall and at the Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge.
It wasn’t long before Rhodes secured his first head chef position at the Castle Hotel in Taunton in 1986, where he really began to refine his skills and develop his passion for British cuisine. His formidable culinary talent even saw him retain the hotel’s Michelin star. In 1990, he returned to London yet again to work as the head chef of the Greenhouse restaurant in Mayfair, where he won the restaurant its first Michelin star in 1996 and was even awarded the Cateys Special Award in the very same year.
After launching two fine-dining restaurants and two brasseries under the name Rhodes & Co with contract caterer Sodexo, Rhodes then joined the Compass Group’s fine-dining arm, Restaurant Associates, to launch Rhodes 24 at Tower 42, winning the restaurant a Michelin star in 2005.
The year before, Rhodes opened his first overseas restaurant, and the following year his first ocean-going restaurant, later adding a second on the P&O cruise liner Oriana.
Opening Rhodes Mezzanine in Dubai in 2007 (which later closed in 2009), and operating two restaurants on the south coast from 2008 until 2010, he later moved to Dubai and operated Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa and Rhodes W1 at the Grosvenor House hotel.
Rhodes was most well known however for his many television appearances, where he even became a household name across the pond, hosting the original MasterChef USA for two seasons. Appearances on game shows like Shooting Stars and Strictly Come Dancing, where he competed with partner Karen Hardy, and starring in his own shows like New British Classics, Rhodes Across India, and Rhodes Across China, firmly cemented his place as a true British icon. His truly was a road well travelled.
Chefs across the country have already taken to Twitter to share their tributes to Gary Rhodes:
So sad to hear the news of Gary Rhodes passing today. The influence he’s has on chef and restauranteurs over the years has been immense. A true icon of Britain cookery, he will never be forgotten. Our thoughts are with his family at this very difficult time.x
So so sad to hear about Gary Rhodes. His banana and syrup loaf was the first thing I baked all on my own. The pages are stuck together with syrup. So much love to his family #garyrhodes
1/2 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
2/2 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.
I came to this country over 15 years ago, all I knew it was Gary Rhodes, Nico Ladenis and Pierre Koffmann! True culinary king just passed away, I am sure Mise en place is already prepped in heaven for you Chef! R.I.P.
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
Jamie Oliver took to Instagram to write: “Sadly Chef Gary Rhodes OBE passed away. My heartfelt 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.”