Everyone was left shocked after the spiky-haired Gary Rhodes died after suffering a subdural hematoma, a condition normally associated with brain injury.
When he died in Dubai on Tuesday night, the 59-year-old celebrity chef was surrounded by his family.
Even on the day he died, he was hard at work which is why his passing was such a complete shock.
His family said in a statement: “In order to end painful speculation surrounding the sudden passing of our beloved Gary Rhodes OBE, the Rhodes family can confirm that after a successful day shooting with Rock Oyster Media for ITV here in Dubai, Gary returned home in a very happy mood for a peaceful evening with his wife Jennie.
“After dinner, Gary, unfortunately, collapsed in their residence and was rushed to hospital but unfortunately passed away due to subdural hematoma.
“At this time, there are no other details and the family would again request privacy around this very tragic loss and again, thank friends and family for their ongoing support at this time.”
Vineet Bhatia, a fellow chef, was filming with Rhodes last week in Dubai and said the chef looked fit and healthy. Rhodes even told him “life couldn’t be better” and those happened to be the last words the celebrity chef spoke to him.
Bhatia said: “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.
“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.”
Jamie Oliver, another friend, and a chef said: “My heartfelt 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 re-imagined modern British cuisine with elegance and fun.”
Rhodes had been working on a new TV series when he suddenly took ill during a pause in filming.
Rock Oyster Media and Goldfinch TV, the production company, said: “Gary was in the middle of filming a wonderful new series with Rock Oyster Media for ITV from his base in Dubai.
“Gary was taken ill very suddenly at home during a break in filming and died a short time afterward.
“Production was obviously halted as soon as Gary was taken ill and members of the Rock Oyster Team remain in Dubai to support the family as best they can.”
The Dubai Police said Rhodes “died of natural causes” while his brother Chris lamented that he had “lost a best friend.”
The chef’s family said: “The Rhodes family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of beloved husband, father, and brother, Gary Rhodes OBE.
“Gary passed away last evening 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.”
Rhodes made a name for himself in the early 2000’s and became even more recognizable through shows such as MasterChef and Hell’s Kitchen as well as having had his own cooking shows. He received an OBE in 2006.
Rhodes was struck by a van in Amsterdam when he was 19. He woke from a coma to find that he had lost his sense of smell. He had eight hours of brain surgery that required six months of recovery.
Following the advice of doctors to be “very careful,” Rhodes gave up playing soccer.
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.”
Rhodes moved to Dubai in 2010 and set up a steakhouse named Rhodes Twenty10.
Tributes poured in for the chef known as “The Chef’s Chef” by his peers.
Gordon Ramsay had tweeted: “We lost a fantastic chef today in Gary Rhodes.” He added: “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.”
Prue Leith, star of The Great British Bake Off, said: “Gary was the first rock star of cooking, making it cool for boys to cook.” She added: “Spiky haircut, tight trousers, full of energy. And a great chef.”
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