Tv & Show

Rick Stein heartbreak: How TV chef talked about tragic loss of essential part of his life

Rick Stein has become something of a mainstay in living rooms across the UK. In the past two decades, he’s become something of a culinary broadcasting legend. His expertise in food has taken him around the world, bringing back tips and tricks from far and wide.

His success led to opening a string of his own restaurants.

Two have stood the test of time, the famous Rick Stein’s Cafe and The Sea Food Restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall.

Rick’s entrance to the culinary world wasn’t via the path well-trodden.

Many now-famous chefs, like James Martin, studied catering and went on to train in professional eateries under the supervision of Michelin star cooks.

Rick, however, flunked school.

Shortly after, his father died, so he decided to travel to Australia aged 19 and start anew.

Down under, he worked as a labourer in an abattoir, and later a clerk in a naval dockyard, Rick likely never had a career as a TV chef in mind.

After taking time out to travel in New Zealand, Rick returned to the UK.

JUST INHow Rick Stein chef opened up about father’s tragic death

Only once did Rick leave Chalky at home while out filming – when he forgot to get him immunised in time for a series in France.

Yet, Chalky had become a star in his own right and in fact appeared in that series, keeping track of the chef’s adventures from a TV screen back in England.

Chalky sadly died in 2007, but, as a 2019 You Magazine interview with the chef explained, the dog was still on Rick’s mind when he filmed his 2019 series, Secret France.

When asked whether he missed Chalky, Rick said: “I do. My wife is always telling me that because we zip across the globe so much, we can’t really keep a dog. But if you’re a dog lover, it’s a pretty essential part of your life.”

Later on in the interview, Rick opened up about the tragic death of his father.

In 1965, Rick, then an 18-year-old, was working as a road sweeper in London.

One day, his flatmate broke the news that Rick’s father had died – it had been broadcast on the radio that a man had been blown off a cliff in Cornwall.

It would later transpire that Rick’s father had in fact thrown himself off – he had killed himself while out walking with his sister.

Eric, Rick’s father, suffered from bipolar disorder.

Yet, because of the period in which he suffered, mental health was still considered taboo.

Rick explained: “When my father was going through all this, there was so much silence as far as us children were concerned that when he did kill himself it was such an enormous shock.

“It was some years after he died that I discovered that he’d tried to kill himself at least twice before. The trouble with something like that is it creates so much tension in a family and as a child, you don’t know what’s going on.

“You know something’s wrong, but you don’t know what it is.

“I do think it’s generally more healthy now that, just as men enjoy cooking, they’re also prepared to talk about being depressed and full of despair.”

For confidential support call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email [email protected] in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.


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