Gary Rhodes OBE

We were sad to hear of the passing of Gary Rhodes today at the tender age of just 59. Gary Rhodes may have been a well-known TV personality and chef on shows such as Masterchef, but he cut his teeth on and contributed greatly to the Somerset restaurant scene. After spells in some of the great kitchens of London he won his first position as Head Chef at The Castle Hotel in Taunton. At the age of just 26 he maintained the restaurant’s Michelin Star and continued to grow both his own reputation and that of the Hotel’s restaurant.

Hotel owner Kit Chapman told The Leveller ® this morning that Gary had been at the vanguard of a great revival of British food. When Mr Chapman first met Gary, he was still very much into nouvelle cuisine, which was the zeitgeist of the early to mid 1980s. But Mr Chapman needed a new head chef and he interviewed Gary Rhodes for, as it turned out, over four hours! Kit Chapman had very different ideas about the direction he wanted to take cooking at The Castle.

At the time The Castle was one of just 14 restaurants outside London to have a Michelin Star. Mr Chapman explains “I wanted to create a renaissance for English cooking focusing on locally sourced ingredients. Gary took to this with relish. I remember eating his braised ox tails – the most divine dish that you could ever hope to eat.  His time at The Castle was a great success and really did lead a revival of great British cooking.” Throughout his time in Taunton it was always very much a partnership between chef and hotelier as they encouraged each other and led a revolution in restaurant food.

In a tweet this morning Kit Chapman simply says “A truly Great British Chef is gone. Deepest condolences to Jennie and the family.” Which really says it all.

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