Matt Tebbutt and Jay Rayner lead tributes to Saturday Kitchen star Russell Norman who has died aged 57

Virgin Radio

24 Nov 2023, 17:00

Matt Tebbutt, Russell Norman

Credit: Getty

Tributes are pouring in for Saturday Kitchen star Russell Norman, who has died aged 57. 

His sad passing was confirmed by his business partner Richard Beatty, who wrote in a statement (via Evening Standard): “It is with the greatest sadness I announce the loss of my best friend Russell Norman. After a short battle in hospital, he died surrounded by family and friends. 

“Russell is survived by his wife and three children, and I ask that you respect the privacy of his family, friends and colleagues at this time."

The restauranter, who was a regular on the BBC’s popular weekend show Saturday Kitchen, started the Polpo chain of restaurants as well as its spin-offs, Spuntino and Polpetto, helping to elevate his status as the “new king of Soho dining.”

Russell also published four cookbooks, one of which, Polpo, won the Waterstones Book of the Year prize in 2012. 

The food expert had only just released his latest book, BRUTTO: A Simple Florentine Cookbook, last month. 

Leading the tributes was Saturday Kitchen host Matt Tebbutt, who shared a photo of Russell on his Instagram page alongside the caption: “Very shocked to hear of the sudden death of Russell Norman. An enormous talent as a chef, hugely successful restaurateur and just an all round nice guy. He will be sorely missed. Cheers for the Negronis, Russell!”

Food critic Jay Rayner followed suit on X (formerly Twitter) with his own tribute, writing: “So sorry to hear of the death, far too young, of Russell Norman. He was one of the most gifted of restaurateurs, a terrific writer and an awful lot of fun to be around. He very much lived life his own way. My thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Podcaster and food writer Gilly Smith added: “What shocking news about Russell Norman. He’s my guest on this week’s Cooking the Books recorded just 2 weeks ago. I’m so glad I asked him the question about drama. You can hear his smile. RIP lovely man.”

His publishing house Bloomsbury posted: "Everyone at Bloomsbury is shocked and saddened at the death of Russell Norman. A visionary restauranteur, his first book, Polpo, was an iconic publication from its Venetian small plates through to its unique spine binding.

“Our every sympathy goes out to his family and friends." Another fan added: "How horrendously, horrendously sad. I only met him twice but he was such a warm and delightful man. Not to mention his joyful restaurants. 57 is no age to die." 

The thoughts of everyone at Virgin Radio go out to Russell’s friends and family.