Page last updated at 19:22 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 20:22 UK

Tributes to TV chef Keith Floyd

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Keith Floyd, flamboyant TV chef, dies

The biggest names in TV cooking have paid tribute to the pioneer of the modern show, Keith Floyd, who has died after a heart attack at the age of 65.

Jamie Oliver said Floyd had been "not just one of the best, he was the best television chef", and Nigel Slater said his shows had been "a joy to watch".

Floyd found fame in the 1980s, hosting shows filmed around the world with wine-glass in hand and huge enthusiasm.

He enjoyed a last meal of oysters, shrimp and partridge, with champagne.

Heston Blumenthal said he had forever "changed the path" of food programmes.

His eccentric, often shambolic style of presentation endeared him to millions of viewers worldwide.

"Keith Floyd was responsible for helping to break down many of the barriers of cooking," said Slater.

Keith Floyd was a true original, a natural performer and a superb cook
Gordon Ramsay

"His freeform, somewhat casual style at the stove made cooking look easy, and encouraged people to have a go."

Blumenthal, who runs the three-Michelin-starred Fat Duck restaurant in Bray, Berkshire, said that Floyd's love of food "jumped out of the screen".

He said: "He'll be sorely missed by everyone. His influence on the way that cooking and food television programmes are made - it changed the path of that forever."

Floyd was born in Somerset and opened his first restaurant, Floyd's Bistro, in Bristol, at the age of 22.

Years later, it was while running another establishment near the BBC studios in the city that Floyd was discovered by television producer David Pritchard.

Their 1985 series, Floyd on Fish, was an instant hit, and subsequent series took the chef all over the world.

'Devil-may-care'

The programmes were ground-breaking at the time for taking the cooking out of a studio, but it was Floyd's wine-fuelled flamboyance that viewers loved.

Rick Stein on Keith Floyd

"That was his charm, completely, the fact that if it all went wrong he just threw it in the bin and carried on," said TV chef Phil Vickery.

"He didn't live in the sanitised world of perfect studio cookery; he was out and about, he loved his drink and he loved engaging with other people."

Floyd wrote more than 20 books, many of them best-sellers. His autobiography, Stirred But Not Shaken, is due to be published next month.

Co-author James Steen said: "He was a very generous man, he was very kind and extremely sharp and witty.

"He knew how to eat well and he was able to convey that. He was a genius at what he did."

Keith Floyd
Floyd's unique presentation style was an instant hit

Gordon Ramsay called Floyd "a true original, a natural performer and a superb cook".

Celebrity chef Rick Stein's first television appearance was a brief contribution to Floyd on Fish in the 80s.

"At a time when I was experimenting with Provencal dishes like bouillabaisse and bourride, he was a Gauloise-smoking, red wine-drinking hero who had actually owned a restaurant next to the Mediterranean," said Stein.

"I never lost that awe of him. He was the first devil-may-care cook on TV who made cooking something that the boys could do too."

John Miles, who managed Floyd for 10 years, said that his former client "changed my hair colour in the time that I managed him".

"We had a lot of good times and quite a few differences of opinion," Miles said.

"He was quite a character. He was a very kind guy - he did have a monstrous side but I was lucky to know the very kind side."

'Loved and respected'

A lack of business acumen plagued Floyd throughout his career, and he went bankrupt in the 1990s reportedly after a £36,000 cheque he had accepted for a drinks bill bounced.

He was married four times, with a son from his first marriage and a daughter from his second.

His final television appearance came in Keith on Keith, shown on Channel 4 on Monday, in which actor Keith Allen tracked down and interviewed his hero.

After viewing the finished programme days earlier Floyd had e-mailed to say that he loved it, Allen said.

In his own characteristic way, Floyd was a genius
Raymond Blanc

"In typical Keith fashion, he observed 'the only weakness in the show is a certain K. Floyd'.

"I hope it gave him some comfort in his last days to know that he was loved and respected by so many people."

"A little piece of Britain died yesterday which will never be replaced," said chef Marco Pierre White.

"He was an individual, he was a maverick, he was mercurial, he was magical, he was special, he was rare."

Chef Raymond Blanc said: "In his own characteristic way, Floyd was a genius."

Floyd died at his partner's Dorset home on Monday night, James Steen said. The chef had been diagnosed with bowel cancer in June.

Dorset Police said the death had been reported to the coroner for west Dorset, and a routine post-mortem examination would be conducted.



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SEE ALSO
In Pictures: Keith Floyd
15 Sep 09 |  In Pictures
Obituary: Keith Floyd
15 Sep 09 |  UK

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