Gary Rhodes, the celebrity chef known for his spiky hair and passion for British cuisine, has died aged 59.
According to a family statement, he died on Tuesday “with his beloved wife Jennie by his side”.
“The Rhodes family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of beloved husband, father and brother, Gary Rhodes OBE,” the statement read.
“The family would like to thank everyone for their support and ask for privacy during this time.”
Born in south London in 1960, Rhodes grew up in Kent and trained at Thanet Technical College.
His first professional job was at the Amsterdam Hilton, where he began to experiment with nouvelle cuisine.
He opened his first restaurant in 1997 and was made an OBE in 2006.
His TV work included appearances on MasterChef, Hell’s Kitchen and his own series Rhodes Around Britain.
He was a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing in 2008, in which he was partnered by professional dancer Karen Hardy.
In a message posted by her dance studio, Hardy said she was “truly speechless and lost for words“.
Rhodes died in Dubai, where he ran two restaurants – Rhodes W1 and Rhodes Twenty10.
Jaideep Bhatia, PR director of the Grosvenor House Dubai, which housed Rhodes W1, said Rhodes was working “until the day he died”.
According to TV company Rock Oyster Media, Rhodes had been filming a new ITV series when he was “taken ill very suddenly at home”.
“All at Rock Oyster Media and Goldfinch are devastated by this tragic news,” it said in a statement.
Gordon Ramsay led the tributes to Rhodes, writing 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.”
Writing on Instagram, Jamie Oliver added: “Gary was a fantastic chef and incredible ambassador for British cooking, he was a massive inspiration to me as a young chef. He re-imagined modern British cuisine with elegance and fun. rest in peace Chef.”
Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith said: “Gary was the first rock star of cooking, making it cool for boys to cook. Spiky haircut, tight trousers, full of energy. And a great chef.”
Fellow chef James Martin wrote: “Hugely influential in my life and the life of the British food scene. Gent and genius… RIP Gary, I can’t believe you’re gone.”
Ainsley Harriott added: “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.”
In a statement, 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.”