A tribute to Gary Rhodes, 'a true British chef'

Cara Houchen

Yesterday's news of Gary Rhodes' death shook the industry with many chefs taking to social media in unison to say 'he changed the dining scene in Britain for so many.'

He was a chef who put British cuisine on the map with his 'traditional'cooking style and updating classics which had fallen out of favour' and he was revered by his peers as truly ‘The Chef’s Chef’.

'A true culinary icon', after graduating from Thanet Technical College in Kent, Gary started his career as a commis at the Amsterdam Hilton but he was hit by a van which left him with a blood clot on the brain and it took him six months to recover.

Gary earned his first Michelin star aged 26 at the Castle Hotel in Taunton, Somerset - he went on to The Greenhouse in Mayfair once again being awarded a coveted star.

At the same time his TV career was also taking hold and series of his own included Gary Rhode's New British Classics, The Great British Menu and Great British Food Revival.

His first restaurant was City Rhodes which opened in London in 1997, a year late he opened Rhodes in the Square. They closed in 2003 and he launched Rhodes Twenty Four at Tower 42 which won Gary his fifth star.

Rhodes W1 at The Cumberland hotel added to his collection of stars inn 2008. 

In Dubai he opened Rhodes Mezzanine and Rhodes Twenty10 - he also opened Rhodes 44 in Abu Dhabi in 2013.

Gary, who wrote 20 cook books, was one of the original Roux Scholar judges and many of the UK's top chefs have been through his kitchens including Tom Kerridge, Paul Ainsworth, Simon Hulstone and Paul Welburn.

'Taking simple ingredients, embracing classic dishes and making something world class' made Gary a true culinary legend who has left a lasting legacy. The Staff Canteen's thoughts are with his family and friends at this time and we want to say thank you for helping to shape the outstanding industry we have now.

Chefs who stood alongside Gary Rhodes pay tribute to 'one of the greatest British chefs'

Jean-Christophe Novelli


"The First time I met Gary was in the early 90's when all the Michelin star chefs used to meet in London once a year. I knew then that he could consistently cook very well, he had confidence and style. I remember asking him who did his hair! He said my wife Jennie and only.

We met later but properly with the intermediary of Jonathon Meades. I saw then, it was clear that Gary was meant to make a unique mark. 

It was a pleasure and an honour to then go on to work with and to be his opponent on Hells Kitchen. This is where I realised that he was not only a great chef and leader but a true gentleman and a loving husband and father. I witnessed the rise of one of the best British Chefs and as a French Chef it was an honour to work with him.  This allowed me to not only get to know him better as a chef but also a very good friend, a friendship that never ceased.  Gary was loyal, trustworthy and had a very big heart, he was also very modest. 

I now regret not having the chance to take up his very recent invitation to get together for a good catch up. I am absolutely gutted.  Not only have we lost one of the worlds Iconic Chefs but that equally we will never meet again. 

My heart goes out to Jennie, the Boys and everyone who loved him, You will greatly missed, Au revoir Gary. 

Jean-Christophe X"

Nathan Outlaw


"You made British chefs proud of cooking British food and so much more.
Thank you for giving me the inspiration to cook and become a chef when I started cooking at Thanet College in Kent. Rest in peace chef x"

Simon Hulstone

"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"


Paul Ainsworth

"I have written this out a few times, but the words just didn’t seem to do justice on my respect and love for this man. Anyone who knows me well, will know I always talk about Chef with the upmost respect. This was where it all began for me. I have so many stories and memories. 1998 I was just finishing college. My lecturer, the late, great Martin Nash was godfather to Gary’s children. Gary called Martin and asked if any students were finishing up and if they would want a job at his brand new restaurant ‘Rhodes in the Square.’

Martin asked me and I jumped at the chance. I drove up to London and met Gary, he was the first celebrity I had ever met and I remember being so overwhelmed by his hair. He was immaculate, he offered me a Job and that was great, but the struggle for me, was London rent and deposit. “Chef I said, I don’t have that sort of money saved up for accommodation!” Gary said “here’s what I’ll do, I will put you up in Dolphin square hotel for 3 months free of charge and you save all your wages up for your digs.” So that’s what I did and that’s how I started out in London at 19 years old. Now I realise I was also in the presence of a true genius and pioneer. This man’s vision and knowledge of British Gastronomy was like nothing else. His mastery of simplicity was unsurpassed. I will forever be lucky to know I got to cook with him and call him boss and mentor. Rest in peace chef and thank you for everything."

Tom Kerridge

"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."

Bruce Rennie

"He was amazing. A total inspiration for me. Gave me my first head chef position and set me on my career path with Mazing insights and advice. I still quote so much of what he taught me in regards to principles of cooking and creating dishes as well as running a business. Was just talking to a friend at the trenchermans awards 3 nights ago and how we loved the way he brought British food forward and made us proud of it. His approach to quality of produce, accuracy in details with a simplicity on the plate was iconic."

Paul Welburn 


"Taken me a few moments to write this as the news has  devastated me... Gary was the reason I am where I am.. A true legend, teacher, inspiration, role model and more importantly an incredible person - he believed in me and gave me the chance to learn and grow as a chef... None of my achievements would have been possible without his support, belief and guidance... He was the chef that took British food and put us on the map I will never forget his bread and butter pudding amongst many other dishes and many of the recipes he taught me then, I still use to this day as they are perfection!

Rhodes W1 will always be a fond memory... Amazing team to be a part of and Chef gave me at 25 the opportunity to run his Michelin star kitchen and for that I could not thank him enough. Memories from there and Rhodes in the Square where as a young 19 year old the eye on detail and focus was instilled and never forgotten... Amazing times... Proud to have shared the stove and the pass with chef... A true mentor and taken too soon.. So many chefs have gone through his kitchens and are now leading their own kitchens with the same respect and passion... Heartbroken to hear... Chef ! From the bottom of my heart, thank you. You will be missed but always remembered! Thoughts with all the family! Industry has lost another great! Rest in peace chef..."

Gordon Ramsay 

"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"

Adam Gray 

"Words cannot describe how I feel today!! The loss of my friend, mentor and true British culinary legend. I had the privilege and honour of working for him and with him for nearly 20 years. We had so many amazing times together here in the U.K. and all around the world. He will be sorely missed in our culinary world. My love and sympathy go to Jennie, Sam and George X R.I.P CHEF"

Michel Roux Jr. 

"No words can express my sorrow, we have lost a culinary genius that inspired a generation to cook. A champion of British ingredients and the classics. Gary, I will forever look up to you X"

Brian Turner 

"Such sad news of the passing away of one of England’s great chefs, Gary Rhodes. A man I was privileged to know from his very early days, watching his success & noting the number of young people he inspired in our wonderful industry. A true friend. RIP chef. ♥️ to Jennie & boys x"

Jo Pratt 


"Where do I start! Gary was such an inspirational culinary legend, he was a true professional with a determined and passionate love of modern British food. I learnt so much from my years working with him which set me up for my own career path. My favourite dishes of his were his extraordinary twists on British desserts - in particular Egg Custard Tart with the most ridiculous amount of egg yolks and nutmeg.! Heaven on a plate. Rest in Peace Gary."

Michel Roux OBE


"We lost one of the greats.  Our thoughts and love are foremost with Jennie and family.  The Roux family was fortunate to enjoy the support of Chef Gary for many happy years as Roux Scholarship judge until moving to Dubai but his support and friendship remained steadfast...

As a Michelin star chef, Gary was remarkable, taking British cooking into the ascendant reconnecting us with a rich culinary culture to rival that of other nations. Classic cooking with flair & a twist of innovation was Gary’s speciality. Gary's's legacy will outlive us all."

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Cara Houchen

Cara Houchen

Editor 28th November 2019

A tribute to Gary Rhodes, 'a true British chef'