Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes tragically slipped and hit his head before he died, according to his close friend and one of the last people to see him alive.
British chef Vineet Bhatia, who was filming with Rhodes last week in Dubai, revealed that the Michelin starred chef was fit and healthy and his last words to him were ‘life couldn’t be better’.
The pair were pictured hugging in one of the last photographs of Rhodes taken four days before he died.
Mr Bhatia, who owns restaurants in London’s Chelsea and Dubai, told Mail Online: ‘I have been told by friends in Dubai that he slipped and banged his head and was then taken to hospital.
‘I wish I could have been there for him. He was such a lovely man. So friendly and enjoying his life.’
Rhodes pictured with Vineet Bhatia in Dubai just five days ago. It is believed to be the last photograph of the chef
Mr Bhatia (pictured with Rhodes during filming) who owns restaurants in London’s Chelsea and Dubai, told Mail Online: ‘I have been told by friends in Dubai that he slipped and banged his head and was then taken to hospital’
Rhodes, famous for his gelled spiky hair and for ‘putting British cuisine on the map’ passed away with his wife Jennie by his side in Dubai where he has lived since 2011
Flowers and a sign reading ‘you will always be in our thoughts and hearts’ were left outside Gary Rhodes’s restaurant, Rhodes W1, in Dubai yesterday
Floral tributes were left to TV chef Gary Rhodes outside his restaurant, Rhodes W1, in Dubai today after his death was announced
Speaking from Mumbai this morning Mr Bhatia added: ‘He came to my restaurant in Dubai to film his TV series last week.
‘He was very supportive and a great friend and very generous with his time to everybody. Gary wasn’t the sort of chef who would shout at his staff. He was respectful to everybody.
‘And I remember him telling me last week ‘life couldn’t be better.’ He was very fit and healthy and this is such a great shock.
‘I remember when he shook my hand it was so firm and his hug was so tight. This was a man who probably had a six pack and worked out in the gym.
‘He was very happy and enjoying the successes of his business and looking forward to expanding. We have lost a great man a great chef.
‘I haven’t had a chance to speak to his wife or family yet, but I will try my best and am sending my condolences. I feel for them so much.’
Television chef Gary Rhodes has died aged 59. Pictured: Rhodes with his wife Jennie in 2003
This photo shows Rhodes with his sons Sam and George, in a post uploaded to George’s Instagram
His son George, pictured with his father, posted a series of photographs on Instagram of the family
Rhodes, 59, famous for his gelled spiky hair and for ‘putting British cuisine on the map’ passed away with his wife Jennie by his side in Dubai where he has lived since 2011.
According to a statement by Dubai Police released yesterday, Rhodes ‘died of natural causes’.
Rhodes had previously suffered a blood clot on the brain in an accident when he was aged 19.
He was warned by doctors of the risks of another head injury after he was hit by a van while running for a tram in Amsterdam in 1979.
It was during his first full-time job working at the Hilton and he needed six months to recover after undergoing eight hours of brain surgery.
Rhodes had two restaurants in Dubai, one called Rhodes Twenty10 at Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa, pictured
Its website describes Rhodes 2010 as ‘a glamorous and intimate scene with opulent chandeliers, black chic an a hint of lilac’
In the Daily Mail in 2002, the chef said doctors warned him to be ‘very careful’, which led him to give up playing football over fears he could be injured again.
He said: ‘I loved playing football at school…but to me it’s not worth the risk, so I don’t play at all. I probably went back too early because I wasn’t used to the long hours, and for the first three months I got tired very quickly.’
Claims he could have died in a fall first emerged in a post by Jamie Oliver on Instagram. In a now deleted post he said that he had ‘passed away after a tragic fall.’
Oliver later deleted the post, and wrote a tribute without the claim, calling him ‘a fantastic chef and incredible ambassador for British cooking.’
A PR director at the Grosvenor House Dubai, where the chef had restaurant Rhodes W1, said he was working ‘until the day he died.’
Chef Reif Othman, who was filming an ITV programme with Rhodes in Dubai six days before his death, said at the time that he ‘seemed fine’ and ‘looked healthy.’
Another post from his son George showed his father with his arm round wife Jennie
Son George posted this picture on Instagram the day before his father died, with a blue heart emoji:
Gary Rhodes pictured in Dubai in an image posted on his Instagram on November 19
Rhodes pictured with chef Reif Othman in Dubai during filming for the ITV show. It was posted six days before his death
Tributes have flooded in for the chef – who celebrated his 30th wedding anniversary this year and got his first Michelin star when he was 26 – as he was hailed a ‘gent and genius’ and ‘the first rock star of cooking.’
Last night his son George has posted a series of pictures of the family on his Instagram, with the words: ‘My dad was the most loving caring man who himself and others around him to be the best they could possibly be.
‘I miss you so much already. Love you dad.’
His brother Chris yesterday said he had ‘not only lost a brother but a best friend too’ adding: ‘Gary you will always be by my side in my thoughts but most of all in my heart.
‘The times I have spent with you have been some of the most special in my life. Rest in Peace beloved man – love you always.’
Rhodes’s brother Chris (far right) posted this image on Instagram one day ago, showing the chef alongside his wife (second right) and sons (far left, and centre) with the caption: Family #strongertogether
In a statement from the family yesterday, they said: ‘The Rhodes family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of beloved husband, father and brother, Gary Rhodes OBE.
Gary Rhodes was warned as a teenager about suffering another brain injury after near-death accident
Chef Gary Rhodes was warned by doctors at the age of 19 about avoiding another head injury after a near-fatal road collision.
Medics said he suffered a blood clot on the brain in a near-death accident when he was a teenager and needed eight hours of brain surgery.
Rhodes was hit by a van while working his first full-time job at the Hilton in Amsterdam in 1979.
After six months of rehabilitation doctors, warned him to be ‘very careful’ following the accident.
In an interview with the Daily Mail in 2002, he revealed how he ‘probably went back to work too early’.
He also said he stopped playing football over concerns for his health and worries about suffering another head injury.
Rhodes said: ‘The doctors didn’t tell me not to play any more, just to be very careful because of the risk of another head injury.
‘But to me it’s not worth the risk, so I don’t play at all.
‘I probably went back too early because I wasn’t used to the long hours, and for the first three months I got tired very quickly.
‘But I was fed up of being at home all day doing very little. I was also desperate to get back into the kitchen.’
After the horror accident, Rhodes said he was left with slight damage to the back of his head, which temporarily affected his ability to smell certain citrus fruits.
His mother, Jean, said of the accident: ‘It was a life and death situation and quite honestly, they did not expect him to live.’
‘Gary passed away yesterday 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.’
It is not known exactly when he was first taken ill but his son George posted a heartbreaking Instagram picture of his father the day before he died.
It had a blue heart emoji caption underneath.
It is believed the photograph was taken at his wedding three years ago. He lives in the family home in Kent, which his parents bought for £3.1million in 2003 and still jointly own.
His son George, who lives in the family home in the London borough of Bromley, has flown to Dubai to be with the family.
The production company that was working with Rhodes on the new TV series said he was suddenly taken ill during a break in filming.
Rhodes was famed for fronting shows MasterChef, MasterChef USA, Hell’s Kitchen, Ready Steady Cook and Rhodes Around Britain throughout his career.
In 2008, Rhodes showed off a muscular physique in Men’s Health magazine after undergoing intensive gym sessions.
He said: ‘I’ve never taken any illegal substance or smoked a cigarette in my life – this is my drug.’
A message on the Rhodes Twenty10 website read: ‘Closed from 16th September until further notice.’ Its Facebook page has not been updated since September 8.
Grosvenor House Dubai and Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa said in a statement: ‘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.’
Jamie Oliver this morning led tributes to Rhodes, posting on Instagram: ‘My heart felt sympathies to his wife , kids, friends and family, sending love and thoughts.
Rhodes with his wife Jennie and two sons Samuel and George in 2003. He had been married to Jennie for 30 years
Rhodes pictured with his two sons Samuel and George in an image posted on George’s Instagram on Father’s Day
‘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.’
Nigella Lawson tweeted: ‘I’m so sad to hear of Gary Rhodes’ death. His poor family. He was such a talent, nothing to do with the showbiz aspect. Remember his food from the Castle Hotel and the Greenhouse so fondly and admiringly.’
Tom Kerridge, formerly Rhodes’ sous chef, tweeted: ‘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.
Jamie Oliver has this morning led tributes to Rhodes, posting on Instagram: ‘My heart felt sympathies to his wife , kids, friends and family, sending love and thoughts’ Gordon Ramsay also posted a tribute today
‘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.’
Simon Hulstone tweeted: ‘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.’
Gordon Ramsay said: ‘We lost a fantastic chef today in Gary Rhodes. He was a chef who put British Cuisine on the map.
Rhodes was presented with an OBE for services to the hospitality industry in November 2006
‘Sending all the love and prayers to your wife and kids. You’ll be missed Gx’
TV chef James Martin posted: ‘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 credited Rhodes with making ‘cookery the new rock ‘n roll’.
He said: ‘Such sad news about Gary, who has left us far too soon.
‘He was a real inspiration to a generation of chefs who learned their trade in professional kitchens and, like him, went on to share their passion and skill through television, books and live appearances.
‘He was the first to make cookery the new rock ‘n roll and will always remain a true icon for all of us.
Spikes became his trademark: Gary’s hair-do made him instantly recognisable but angered Masterchef bosses
Gary Rhodes’ trademark spiky hair made him instantly recognisable – and it all happened by accident.
In an interview with the Evening Standard he told how it started when he let a friend do his hair when he was in his early 20s.
He said: ‘I had the same spiky haircut for a long time.
‘Back in the 80s, a friend said, ‘I know, I’ll spike it up a bit for you.’ So he did and I loved it straight away.’
It took up to an hour to style every morning, and dismissed criticism about it, onece saying: ‘Why should a haircut irritate anyone? What does it matter? I don’t think people should be judged on face value.’
In 2001, Rhodes replaced Loyd Grossman on Masterchef. A producer said she tried to get him to change his gel ‘at the very least.’
She told the Guardian how she delicately tried to raise the topic with his agent, ‘but not with him. It was too sensitive. I think it was his security blanket.’
Rhodes arrived for rehearsals with his spikes – but later got rid of them.
Explaining why he finally gave in, he said: ‘I’ve had enough of this – I’m much happier – instead of taking 20 minutes to spray it, now I’m under the shower and it’s done.’
‘Our thoughts are with Jennie and the boys. We’ll miss you, mate.’
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.’
Born in south London in 1960, his family moved to Gillingham, Kent. He went to catering college in Thanet which is where he met his wife Jennie.
In the 1970s he had to have major brain surgery when he was hit by a transit van on a night out.
He was known for his love of British cuisine and earned a record five Michelin Stars throughout his career. He was the author of more than 18 cookery books.
In 2008 he appeared on Strictly Come Dancing but was the third celebrity to be voted off. He moved to Dubai in 2011.
Marcel Faulstich, managing partner at the Chapter One restaurant near Gary’s former Kent home, told how the down-to-earth celebrity used to regularly visit the area.
He said: ‘He was a regular here and spent last Christmas and New Year’s Eve with us. He booked a table in the restaurant and enjoyed the festivities.
‘His son still lives in the family home nearby and Gary was over in the summer on business and came here quite a few times.
‘The last time I saw him was when he was about to fly back to Dubai, I put my arm around him and said I hoped we’d see him and the family back this Christmas.
‘It’s such a shock and really sad news. He had been filming a new TV series in Dubai and had fallen ill. I don’t know more than that.
‘I’ve sent my condolences to his family. He was a great character and we loved having him here as a guest. We’ll really miss him.’
Matt Schmidt, manager of The British Queen pub nearby, added: ‘The British food and hospitality industry wouldn’t be where it is, had it not been for Gary pushing it forward.
‘He was a terrific chef, it’s such a shock really. I saw him here a few times, it was always great to have him around.’
The south London boy who found culinary stardom: How Gary Rhodes learned to cook by preparing meals for his family when his father walked out on them when he was just six
Gary Rhodes (pictured on the left) with brother Kit and mother Jean on holiday
With his trademark enthusiasm and gravity-defying haircut, Gary Rhodes was among the bevy of Michelin-starred chefs to become household names following the soaring success of the television cookery show format in the 1990s.
But he credited the beginnings of his culinary genius to experiences in his young life, after his father walked out on the family when he was just six.
The chef was born in south London in 1960 before the family moved to the Medway town of Gillingham in Kent.
He later told how the family was left shell shocked after his father, a caretaker, ran away with a next door neighbour and disappeared from their lives.
Their new situation led to Gary become the family cook, and gave him the sense of hard-work and responsibility which never left him.
In an interview in 2008, he told the Daily Mail: ‘My father walking out on me and my brother and two sisters made us grow up so quickly. When I look back, I realise I had quite a responsible head on young shoulders. It made me much stronger, because I had to be – so good did come out of bad.’
‘When he left, my mother had four children, and the youngest – my sister Cheryl – was only a baby. We lived in a council flat and money was tight. When mum had to go back to work as a secretary, I became the family cook.
‘By the time Cheryl was six or seven, I was picking her up from school, taking her home and planning what I was going to cook for her that evening. While other teenage boys were off playing football, I was busy keeping house.’
At 15, he got a place doing catering at Thanet technical college, where he met Jennie, who he would later marry and who has been with him throughout his life. She was by his side when he died last night.
His first real job in catering came when he was 19, becoming a commis chef at the Amsterdam Hilton.
Rhodes made a brief appearance in a Keith Floyd show in 1988 before appearing in Hot Chefs in 1992, his big break into TV cooking shows
The couple returned to the UK following a horrific van accident in Holland, after which Jennie was told Gary could be brain-damaged and might never talk again. The incident also affected his sense of smell.
He needed six months off work, but recovered and returned to Britain to get his ‘big break’ in the industry, becoming head chef at the Castle Hotel in Taunton aged 26.
The move allowed the couple to buy their first home, although Gary later admitted he had to work long hours to retain the hotel’s Michelin star.
Gary Rhodes taught himself to cook after his father walked out on his family and he took cooking responsibilities on to help his mother
He later said: ‘I can’t bear it when young chefs quit because they can’t stand the hours, or they say the money isn’t enough. It was how I started out – you reap the rewards years later.’
And reap the rewards he did – in 1990 he moved to London and became head chef at the Greenhouse Restaurant in Mayfair.
He made a name for himself by reviving British classics, including fish cakes, oxtails and bread and butter pudding. Under Gary’s stewardship, the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 1996.
By this time, Rhodes was appearing on TV, first appearing on Hot Chefs, alongside other members of the first wave of celebrity chefs – Antony Worrall Thompson and Ken Hom.
This led him on to the series Rhodes Around Britain in 1994 and Gary Rhodes’s Perfect Christmas in 1998.
At a time when Britpop dominated the music scene, Rhodes was credited with injecting the ‘laddishness’ into the kitchen.
His effervescent and affable on-screen persona made him a hit with would-be chefs, though his serious culinary credentials were earned long before he was beamed into the front rooms, and kitchens, of millions of Britons through regular appearances on the likes of BBC series Ready Steady Cook.
Rhodes, one of the first breed of celebrity chefs, with Princess Diana at the gala night to celebrate the film Apollo 13 in 1995
Rhodes at the opening of his London restaurant Rhodes W1 in 2007. He had first hit the big time as head chef at the Castle Hotel in Taunton aged 26
Reflecting on his career in an interview earlier this year, Rhodes said: ‘When I first started on TV I think I was the very first professional chef to have his first full BBC series.
‘Today, I suppose I have a little bit of pride watching chefs on TV – the reason for that, many of them worked for me.’
Rhodes founded the first restaurant of his own in 1997, when City Rhodes opened. The chain later expanded to open three other Rhodes and Co eateries around the UK.
He starred on Masterchef, for which he found most fame, first in 1993 but in more episodes in 2001, and Masterchef USA.
In 2006, he was honoured with an OBE for services to the hospitality industry, something he described as ‘just unbelievable’ and even had ‘the edge’ over a Michelin star.
Rhodes (pictured in 2011 at the Taste of Christmas food festival at London’s ExCel centre) championed British recipes which had become unfashionable
He said at the time: ‘It makes me feel very proud that British cooking has been recognised.
‘Thirty years ago when I started training at college I remember serving the Duke of Edinburgh.
‘I was only ever allowed to serve vegetables. I remember looking around and seeing the Queen at the top table, and lo and behold there’s now some kind of connection.’
Rhodes on Strictly with partner Karen Hardy
In 2007, Rhodes began his work in Dubai, opening Rhodes Mezzanine at The Grosvenor House Hotel, Dubai. It went on to win ‘Restaurant of the Year’.
In 2008, he competed in the sixth series of Strictly Come Dancing, partnering with pro Karen Hardy, but was voted off just three weeks in.
He said of his time on the show: ‘I’ve cooked live in front of thousands of people; I have spoken in public and appeared on television without so much as a butterfly in my stomach
‘And each Saturday, I would arrive early in preparation for the live Strictly show feeling really positive.
‘But as the day wore on, the nerves would set in and, at that moment when you know you are about to face a live audience, a panel of judges and ten million viewers, they would announce: ‘Gary and Karen’, and I would think, ‘Oh, my God’.
‘The nerves just pulled me apart. I didn’t realise I could ever be as nervous as that.’
He moved over to the UAE to concentrate on Mezzanine and three other venues he later opened there.
How Gary Rhodes and a new wave of super chefs including Marcus Wareing, Angela Hartnett, Gordon Ramsay and Michel Roux Jr transformed the face of British cooking
by Richard Spillett
Gary Rhodes was one of the first wave of celebrity chefs in the 1990s who sought to make British cooking glamorous, celebrated and exciting after years of being seen as dowdy and dull.
His on the small screen came through the BBC show Hot Chefs, alongside fellow chefs Antony Worrall Thompson and Ken Hom and presenter Ross King.
Off the back of that, he was given the 1994 series, Rhodes Around Britain, in which he travelled the country seeking out traditional dishes which had fallen by the wayside, such as hotpot, oxtail and chutneys.
The show, followed by a bestselling cookbook, has been the model for endless series by others since, as Britain’s taste for new chefs and new foods increased.
In 2003, the photographer John Reardon collected 13 of the country’s most eminent chefs and produced a beautiful portrait styled on the Last Supper. Rhodes sits to the left of Gordon Ramsey, who is at the centre.
Here, MailOnline looks at the 12 other chefs in the portrait who followed in Rhodes’ footsteps.
Gordon Ramsey (left) is one of the most recognisable of the celebrity chefs. He rose from a childhood on a council estate before studying at a technical college. He worked his way through London’s kitchens before opening restaurants, starring in numerous TV shows on both sides of the Atlantic and being handed multiple Michelin stars. Angela Hartnett (right) started working for Gordon Ramsay in 1994 before branching out on her own. In 2008 she opened the Michelin-starred Murano, in Mayfair, followed by other highly successful ventures, including Hartnett Holder & Co restaurant and cookery school at Lime Wood Hotel in the New Forest.
Michel Roux Jr (left), now 59, is the Chef Patron of Le Gavroche in Mayfair, London. He was a judge on the BBC show MasterChef: The Professionals, and appeared on the Great British Food Revival. He lives in London with his wife, Giselle; they have a daughter, Emily. Giorgio Locatelli (right) came from Italy to England in the 1980s and worked in the kitchens at at The Savoy. After a spell in Paris, he opened Olivio in central London in 1995 and from there was hired for TV, featuring in the series Pure Italian, Tony and Giorgio and Sicily Unpacked.
Renowned French chef Raymond Blanc OBE, 70, (left) runs the hotel and two-Michelin-starred restaurant Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire. He has two sons and lives with partner Natalia Traxel in Oxford. Michael Caines (right) lost his right arm in a car crash but has continued his stella march to chef stardom. He is now the chef and patron of Lympstone Manor, near Exeter and Kentisbury Grange near Barnstaple.
Shane Osborn (right) is the first Australian Chef to achieve one and two Michelin stars at Pied-a-Terre in London. He has since opened a solo venture, Arcane in Hong Kong. He appeared on the culinary reality television show, The Final Table, which launched late last year on Netflix. Atul Kochhar (right) was born in India and cut his teeth in the hotels of New Delhi. He then moved to London and became the first Indian chef to receive a Michelin star, whilst at Tamarind. He then opened his own restaurant Benares, which won him a second Michelin star in 2007. He regularly appears on Saturday Kitchen, Masterchef Goes Large and Great British Menu.
John Burton-Race (left) was born in Singapore and later came to England to train at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Oxford. After starring in Channel 4 series French Leave in 2002, which saw him and his wife live in France, the family then moved to Devon in 2004 to set up the New Angel restaurant in Dartmouth. But his wife shut the restaurant in 2007 while he was in Australia filming the reality show I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! He was declared bankrupt in 2009. At 26, Tom Aikens (right) became the youngest British chef ever to be awarded two Michelin stars. After working at a number of top restaurants in London and Paris, he opened Tom’s Kitchen in Chelsea. He has written three books and reached the final banquet of 2013’s Great British Menu on BBC2 in aid of Comic Relief.
Michelin-starred Éric Chavot (left) trained in France before moving to London where he became a protégé of both Raymond Blanc and Pierre Koffmann. More recently, he became head chef at Bob Bob Cité and Bob Bob Ricard. He also worked a consultant chef at the Royal Albert Hall’s Coda restaurant. Marcus Wareing (right) was also a protege of Gordon Ramsay. Wareing ran Petrus at The Berkeley on behalf of Ramsay, before he took complete control, resulting in a bitter legal feud with his former mentor, who was also his best man. More recently, he has worked as the chef patron of the one-Michelin-starred restaurant Marcus and succeeded Michel Roux Jr as a judge on MasterChef: The Professionals.