Michelin-starred chef Paul Kitching has tragically died aged 61, his partner Katie O’Brien announced.
In a moving statement posted on his Edinburgh restaurant 21212’s social media platforms on Thursday, she wrote: ‘My love has gone. But what a love x’.
The chef’s cause of death has yet to be revealed.
In an email sent out to customers of the restaurant, Katie described Paul’s death as a ‘total shock’.
She wrote: ‘Dear friends, it is with a heavy heart that I write to let you know that I’ve lost my love – Paul – who sadly passed away yesterday.
RIP: Paul Kitching, a Michelin-starred chef, has tragically died aged 61, his devastated wife Katie O’Brien has announced
Paul was highly acclaimed within the industry and also known for his friendly, cheerful nature
‘The death has come as a total shock to us at 21212 and we are trying to come to terms with the passing of a legend within our industry.
‘Paul was an inspirational figure to everyone who ever had the pleasure of meeting him or working with him and we are all devastated.’
Raised in Gateshed, Paul’s career began in a Latin American restaurant in Newcastle, where he worked as a pot wash.
He later moved moved to York, where he discovered his passion for cooking.
He launched Juniper restaurant in Manchester and was awarded a Michelin star in 1997, which he retained for 11 years.
Reflecting on his first Michelin restaurant, he said: ‘The food was pure Marco Pierre White inspired, it had a little bit of me in it but it was influenced by his style.
‘By the time we closed it everything from when we opened, as in the Marco food style, was gone. It had become a mirror image of who I thought I was.’
In 2009 the talented chef set up 21212 in Edinburgh with his partner Katie, which also went on to be awarded a Michelin star.
As well as a Michelin star, the restaurant received numerous awards including best new restaurant in the UK, four AA rosettes and has been named Catering in Scotland’s Restaurant of the Year.
Devastating loss: In a heartbreaking statement posted on his Edinburgh restaurant 21212’s social media platforms, Katie wrote: ‘My love has gone. But what a love x’
In 2009 the talented chef set up 21212 (pictured) in Edinburgh with his partner Katie, which also went on to be awarded a Michelin star
In a statement, the Michelin Guide described Paul as a ‘true maverick’.
‘Paul Kitching was kind, clever, hugely talented and infectiously enthusiastic. He was also a true maverick and his passion and creativity were evident in every dish he created. Our heartfelt sympathies go to Katie and all his family.’
Paul was also awarded the Prince Philip medal for services to the catering industry.
He’d been in the service industry for 35 years, and prior to working in restaurants, he had brief stints as a baker and a labourer.
In a 2020 interview, Paul said despite all of his success, he spent a lot of time trying to build up confidence in himself and his own abilities.
‘I was a very nervous chef,’ he said. ‘It was overcome by stepping back and believing in myself and the reputation I had gained.’
In the same interview, Paul revealed he never liked to cook at home, but described his restaurant’s style as: ‘Classic but cool.’
Talented: Paul created Juniper restaurant in Manchester and was awarded a Michelin star in 1997, which he retained for 11 years
Tributes have flooded in for the world-class chef from the culinary community.
Tom Kerridge commented a crying face emoji, while Elite Bistros restaurant group owner Gary Usher said on Twitter: ‘This is awful news I’m so so sorry. He was so kind to me when I needed an arm around me more than ever.’
Chef Shane Osborn added: ‘Such tragic news to hear the sudden death of the genius Paul Kitching. He was incredibly kind, generous and extremely talented.
‘The meal he cooked for me at Juniper some 20 years ago was one of best dining experiences of my life. His cooking and hospitality made people shine with joy.
‘Paul you will be missed by so many, thanks for all the great memories . My thoughts and deep condolences to Katie, his family and the team at 21212’s’.