Alastair Little Dies aged 72

The  Staff Canteen

72-year-old celebrity chef Alastair Little has passed away on August 3rd in his home in Australia

Tributes have been pouring in for Alastair Little, considered by many as the godfather of modern British cooking, who died yesterday (August 3rd) at age 72.

Jeremy Lee, who worked under Alastair for many years, said, in an Instagram post, “There goes a great man. Alastair Little was a godfather of modern British cooking and a champion of keeping it simple. His cooking was just incredible, peerless.

“Unique, charming, brilliant and a joy to cook with [he was] a huge inspiration, a great pal and a great boss, gone too young - too soon - much missed and never to be forgotten.”

Many others from the hospitality industry have shared their feelings and support for Alastair’s friends and family. Such as Saturday Kitchen star James Martin, who posted on Twitter, “So sad to hear the news one of the true godfathers of British food has passed away.

“The man was a legend in so many people’s eyes and mine and my thoughts go to his family and friends. Chef, you are and always will be a legend to me and many others. RIP”

A spectacular Career

Alastair was entirely self-taught originally planning to become a film editor before switching careers into chef after working as a waiter at Small's, a Knightsbridge cafe. His first role as a chef would come in 1976 while he was working at the Old Compton Wine Bar, when he would take over after the chef quit.

Over the next few years, he would work his way up and build up his skills, eventually working at L'Escargot in Soho - starting in 1981 - before moving to 192 (Kensington Park Road).

In 1985 he would open Alastair Little in Frith Street, Soho with the help of Kirsten Pedersen and Mercedes Andre-Vega. Known for being startlingly different to comparable restaurants at the time the restaurant was a big success and was named the Times Restaurant of the Year in 1993.

In 1995 the team would go on to open another restaurant, also named Alastair Little, off Ladbroke Grove in West London. Then in 2002, after leaving the group, Alastair opened Tavola a deli in Notting Hill, West London.

In 2017, Alastair moved to Sydney with his wife Sharon and opened a pop-up restaurant called Little Bistro inside the CBD Hotel at the same time he co-owned Restaurant Et Al in Potts Point.

Following that, in 2019, he started a home delivery service in London called ‘ByAlastairLittle’ which was based on the dishes created for Tavola.

Impact on the Industry

Alastair was famous within and outside of the industry for his contributions to Britain's culinary culture as he helped develop a style that fused simple, seasonal cooking with influences from across Europe, in his case, most notably Italy. 

It is a style that has stood the test of time and has gone on to influence many great chefs and is still being mimicked by restaurants today.

Fay Maschler, critic for the Standard for 48 years, speaking to the paper, said: “The changes to restaurant cooking that handsome, helpful Alastair Little codified nearly 40 years ago in his eponymous Soho restaurant still inspire and reverberate — perhaps at even a higher volume.

“A thirst for knowledge, love of travel, of Italy and Japan, a strictly seasonal menu changing twice daily, an ability to cut to the chase and not suffer foolish customers gladly, intolerance for fripperies; all are sound, all are Alastair.”

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 4th August 2022

Alastair Little Dies aged 72