Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Keith Floyd R.I.P.

It is with sadness to think a legend in terms of TV/Celebrity Chef has passed away.

I had the pleasure of meeting the man a couple of times but I am sure he would not have remembered me.
Once was at a luncheon with my fellow inspectors from Egon Ronay Guides at Marco Pierre Whites restaurant “Harvey’s” on Wandsworth Common. We were all having a pre Christmas lunch and Keith was sat in the corner at another table slowly getting more sozzled.

The next occasion was when working for Egon I was asked to inspect his Pub/Restaurant in Totnes, South Devon in the late 80’s. The Malsters Arms that he then cleverly renamed - "Floyd’s Inn".
I vividly remember having booked a table for lunch in the restaurant arriving to be told sorry but the restaurant was now closed as Mr Floyd was entertaining a personal party therein.

I then had my lunch in the busy bar with Keith popping his head around the room working the tables and lapping up the adulation from the guests, resplendent with red wine glass in hand… my only lasting memory of the lunch was the selection of pates served for my starter were all "bought in" from France – they were good as he had obviously sourced a good supplier but a bit disappointing to think they had not been made in house!

When I then revealed myself on settling my bill I was whisked down stairs to meet the man and was introduced to his then wife Shaunagh and the guests with whom he was lunching – He proudly introduced them as “His Bank Manager”, “His Lawyer”, “His Agent” etc… a bit daunting as no names were given.

He was a gentleman personified and passionate about the food, but as was later revealed not the best at “business” as he ran up huge debts.

His legacy of cookery programmes will have inspired a generation of cooks and chefs and I also remember his talent for spotting a good chef. Although he had departed by the time I inspected the Malsters Arms Jean Christophe Novelli was his chef here when he first arrived here in the UK.

He inspired many of our "celebrity chefs" of today and his penchant for a glass of wine was legendary… I will certainly be raising a glass to him.

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