Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By David Wilkes and Arthur Martin

THE culi­nary world was left stunned yes­ter­day by the sud­den death of Gary Rhodes at the age of 59.

The celebrity chef died with his wife of 30 years Jen­nie, also 59, by his side at their home in Dubai on Tues­day evening.

Rhodes was taken ill ‘very sud­denly’ there dur­ing a break in film­ing for a new ITV show and died ‘a short time af­ter­wards’, ac­cord­ing to the pro­duc­tion com­pany he was work­ing with.

Dubai po­lice sources said the fa­ther of two – who cham­pi­oned Bri­tish cui­sine and ap­peared on TV shows in­clud­ing MasterChef, Strictly and his own Rhodes Around Bri­tain se­ries – died of nat­u­ral causes.

Jamie Oliver said on In­sta­gram that Rhodes had ‘passed away af­ter a tragic fall’, but later deleted the post, and wrote a trib­ute with­out the claim. The cause of death had not been made public last night. But one the­ory is it could be re­lated to a blood clot on the brain he suf­fered in an ac­ci­dent when he was 19.

Rhodes was warned by doc­tors of the risks of an­other head in­jury af­ter he was hit by a van while work­ing at the Hil­ton in Am­s­ter­dam in 1979. He needed eight hours of brain surgery.

The chef said in 2002 that doc­tors had warned him to be ‘very care­ful’, which led him to give up play­ing foot­ball. He said: ‘I loved play­ing foot­ball at school...but to me it’s not worth the risk, so I don’t play at all.’

Oliver yes­ter­day hailed Rhodes – who was awarded his first Miche­lin star when he was 26 – as ‘an in­cred­i­ble am­bas­sador for Bri­tish cook­ing’. Bake Off judge Prue Leith said: ‘Gary was the first rock star of cook­ing.’ Gor­don Ram­say said: ‘He was a chef who put Bri­tish cui­sine on the map.’

James Martin hailed him as a ‘gent and ge­nius’, while Ains­ley Har­riott said he was ‘the first to make cook­ery the new rock and roll’. Tom Ker­ridge, for­merly Rhodes’ sous chef, tweeted that he ‘al­most sin­gle-hand­edly put Bri­tish food on the world stage’.

It was not clear ex­actly when Rhodes – who had two adults sons, Sa­muel and Ge­orge – was first taken ill. Ge­orge, 29, was last night thought to have left the UK to fly to Dubai. He lives in the fam­ily home in Kent, which his par­ents bought for £3.1mil­lion in 2003 and still jointly own.

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.’

Rhodes be­gan work­ing in Dubai in 2007 and moved there in 2011. Pro­duc­tion com­pany Rock Oys­ter Me­dia said: ‘Gary was taken ill very sud­denly at home dur­ing a break in film­ing and died a short time af­ter­wards.’ Chef Reif Oth­man, who was film­ing with Rhodes six days be­fore his death, said he had ‘seemed fine’.

Jaideep Bha­tia, PR di­rec­tor of the Grosvenor House Dubai, said Rhodes was work­ing ‘un­til the day he died’.

His brother Chris Rhodes later tweeted that he had ‘not only lost a brother but a best friend too’. ITV said: ‘We are deeply shocked and sad­dened by this dev­as­tat­ing news.’

‘Made cook­ing the new rock and roll’

On set: Gary Rhodes with fel­low chef Vi­neet Bha­tia dur­ing film­ing

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