Dubai: Celebrity chef and restaurant owner Gary Rhodes has died in Dubai. He was aged 59.
A family statement confirmed the news, stating: "We 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."
The culinary community may remember Rhodes as the resident Michelin man, with his distinctive spiked hair and a love for traditional British cuisine that often reflected on the menus of any new venture he launched. For members of the fraternity though, Rhodes was a gentleman to the very end.
“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,” tweeted fellow celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.
“Sad news today for the culinary world. The legend of British Cuisine, Gary Rhodes passed away. He was one of the greats and I was always honored to meet him at Grosvenor House, Dubai. #RIP” stated chef Vikas Khanna.
“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,” posted chef Jamie Oliver on Instagram.
Chef Vineet Bhatia also issued a statement on social media, writing: “Extremely sad to know of Gary Rhodes sudden passing away. Had known this gem of a man for years and intact filmed with him just 4 days ago for his new TV series. RIP my friend and may God give strength to Jennie and your boys in these tough times,” wrote Bhatia.
According to a statement by Dubai Police, Rhodes ‘died of natural causes’, however, details on the cause of death have yet to emerge. A statement from his family urged for privacy, stating: “We 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.”
The local hotels where Rhodes ran a successful restaurant empire also issued a statement following his passing.
"The team at Grosvenor House Dubai and Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa 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."
UAE-based Vox Cinemas, which serves a special menu by Rhodes in the Gold class, also issued a statement on the chef's passing. “Majid Al Futtaim and VOX Cinemas are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our trusted friend and partner Chef Gary Rhodes OBE. We will remember fondly Chef’s legendary energy, passion and commitment, and cherish the countless great experiences we enjoyed with one of the world’s true gentlemen. Our thoughts and condolences are with the Rhodes family during this difficult time”.
The British Amabassador to the UAE also tweeted his condolences.
LIFE OF RHODES
The chef may have gained global recognition on shows such as ‘MasterChef’ and ‘Hell’s Kitchen’, but his talent made him a desirable name in the culinary circles even at a young age.
Born in South London in 1960, Rhodes spent most of his childhood years in Gillingham, Kent where he experimented in the kitchen even as a teenager, preparing family meals whilst his mother was at work. His official biography cites his first major culinary achievement at the age of 13, when a Sunday roast followed by a classic British dessert - Marguerite Patten’s steamed lemon sponge pudding - won over his family and a threw open the doors for a career in cooking.
By aged 26, Rhodes had already earned his first Michelin star at The Castle Hotel in Taunton. In January 1996, he won a second Michelin Star for his talents at the Green House in the UK.
However, not one to simply limit his talents, Rhodes was soon itching to expand his empire. By 2004, he had opened his first overseas restaurant in Grenada. By 2007, Rhodes’ travels welcomed the launch of Rhodes Mezzanine at The Grosvenor House Hotel, Dubai. In August 2010 Gary opened Rhodes Twenty10 at Le Royal Meridien, in Dubai to great success. Both of Rhodes restaurants in Dubai have been honoured with awards.
MOVE TO DUBAI
The father of two moved to the UAE in 2011 and spoke to Gulf News tabloid! about his joy of finding a new home for his family in Dubai.
“I love walking out when I’m at the top. I think it was a great move to make, it was the right move,” he told Gulf News tabloid! in 2017. He said at the time he was coming to the end of a 10-year contract at one of his two Michelin-starred London restaurants and decided he wanted to move his operations to Dubai, where he was already heading Rhodes Mezzanine (the forerunner to Rhodes W1) at the Grosvenor House hotel.
“I was already coming out between eight and 10 times a year, which just got out of hand. It was ridiculous, so when the contract came up, I discussed it with my wife and we moved over.”
Over the years, Rhodes has also written numerous books and presented many cookery series. In the past few years he has appeared on the Good Food channel travelling and discovering the culinary secrets of India, China, the Caribbean and Italy.
- With additional reporting from Ali Al Shouk, Senior Reporter