Vivacious television chef Keith Floyd has died aged 65 at his Dorset home. The celebrated bon vivant, who paved the way for future cookery programmes, died shortly after a hearty luncheon at a restaurant in Lyme Regis. He had just extinguished one of many post-prandial cigarettes when he suffered a heart attack and passed away on the sofa.
Keith Floyd’s career as a chef began in the Army. He had turned down the 11th Hussars to take a commission in the less snooty 3rd Royal Tank Regiment, but found his billet in Germany a far cry from the image of Rorke’s Drift that had got him there. To alleviate the boredom he took over the running of the officers’ mess and learned to cook. After running a series of popular but financially unsuccessful restaurants, he started his career as a TV chef at the age of 42. Constantly slurping from a glass of wine during his programmes, he soon became tired of being called the “Ollie Reed of TV chefs”, claiming that he had only ever been actually drunk on television once.
In 1989 Floyd put some of his television earnings into buying the Malster’s Arms at Tuckenhay, Devon. With Jean-Christophe Novelli as head chef, it soon became extremely popular, though Floyd grew to regard his diners with ill-disguised contempt, dismissing them as celebrity-obsessed and snobbish. On one occasion he served a particularly belligerent diner a carefully cooked beer mat disguised as a breaded escalope of veal. The man ate it without comment but criticised the topping on his crème brûlée.
Floyd was the pioneer of television cookery programmes filmed in the field as opposed to a studio. He was often to be seen cramped over a pan on a thermos on a trawler or knee-deep in the ocean. Cooking equipment was often borrowed from local hotels and restaurants. On one occasion Floyd was nearly drowned filming a sequence on the Great Barrier Reef. On another he ran into trouble with the Norwegian government for flambéing two protected puffins.
Keith Floyd’s final meal at the Hix Oyster and Fish House in Lyme Regis, Dorset consisted of:
1. Hix Fix – Champagne with a cherry soaked in apple eau de vie.
2. Glass of Pouilly Vinzelles 2006 Burgundy.
3. Oysters with potted shrimp and toast.
4. A bottle of Nature Perrin and Fils Cotes de Rhone 2007
5. Red Legged partridge with bread sauce
6. Perry Jelly – pear cider made into jelly
7. A number of cigarettes.