Chef Keith Floyd dies aged 65 - after a fine three-course meal

 

CARELESS WITH money, generous to his friends, chef Keith Floyd died at home yesterday of a heart attack – but appropriately, after a glass of fine red wine and a meal of oysters, shrimp and partridge.

For millions, he is the man who brought cooking out of the kitchen and on to television screens around the world with a succession of popular, slightly chaotic and irreverent programmes.

His passing yesterday was mourned in Kinsale, Co Cork, where he lived for more than a decade from 1987, although he had, sadly, fallen out with many locals before he eventually departed Irish shores in 1996, and in the UK, where he held a place in popular affections unmatched, perhaps, by the plethora of celebrity chefs who followed his footsteps.

Just 65, Floyd, who had four marriages and lived with guilt for being “a poor father” to his two children, had been suffering from bowel cancer, although he had high hopes of defeating the illness.

However, he had found peace in more recent times, happy in a relationship with his close friend of 40 years, Celia Martin, whom he lived with at their homes in Bridport, Dorset, and in the south of France.

His final day was appropriately spent for a man who lived for food, a glass of wine and the company of friends, with a three-course meal with Ms Martin in a restaurant owned by his friend, and fellow celebrity chef, Mark Hix.

Chef Jonathan Jeffrey, speaking to the London Times, said the two ate a Hix Fix cocktail – a morello cherry soaked in Somerset apple eau de vie topped up with champagne – on the restaurant’s sun terrace, before moving indoors for oysters and shrimps. Later, he ate partridge served with bread sauce.

Returning home, Floyd went for a nap, rising to watch a Channel 4 interview of him that evening.

Lying on a sofa, he became ill, his breathing erratic, as his partner struggled to save him. He died before the programme was aired.

During his years in Cork, where he lived at Creek Lodge between Belgooly and Kinsale, the chef was adored, recruiting staff for his British restaurants in interviews conducted at the bar counter of the Blue Haven, with a glass of wine in his hand.

“He always said he felt at home when his plane flew over the Head of Kinsale and he landed at Cork airport,” said Brian Cronin, the former owner of the Blue Haven who now lives in Spain, yesterday,

“He was a lovely person. Despite all his flamboyance, there was a little boy inside him who just wanted to do nice things with food.”

Billy Mackesy, owner of Bawnleigh House in Ballinhassig, helped Floyd to buy Creek Lodge, introducing him to the owner, local farmer, Dan O’Neill, where the deal was sealed with “a few drops of whiskey”. Returning to Ireland from his frequent business trips to London, where he was collected by Mr Mackesy at Cork airport, Floyd frequently insisted on taking the slow route home, stopping off at every public house between there and Belgooly.