'Godfather of modern British cookery' Alastair Little dies at 72

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: byalastairlittle.co.uk
Picture: byalastairlittle.co.uk

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Chef, restaurateur and cookbook writer Alastair Little has died at the age of 72.

Widely credited with the modernisation of British cuisine, Little was dubbed 'the Godfather of modern British cookery' and one of Britain’s most celebrated chefs.

He was a leading figure in the UK for developing the movement away from French haute cuisine in favour of food based on simplicity, seasonality and taste, often with Mediterranean influences. 

Leading tributes to Little on Instagram, Quo Vadis chef Jeremy Lee called Little 'a great man'.

“Alastair Little was a godfather of modern British cooking and a champion of keeping it simple,” he said.

“His cooking was just incredible x peerless. Unique, charming, brilliant x a joy to cook with x a huge inspiration x a great pal and a great boss x gone too young x too soon x much missed and never to be forgotten.”

Little held roles at high-profile restaurants including fine-dining French restaurant L’Escargot, before setting up his own restaurants including Simpsons in Putney and Le Routier in Suffolk.

He opened his eponymous Frith Street restaurant in 1985, which was awarded the Times Restaurant of the Year award in 1993, and later opened another under the same name in Notting Hill.

Following a dispute and protracted financial negotiations, Little left both restaurants to his former partner, who retained the right to use his name.

The Notting Hill restaurant eventually closed in 2003, with the original Frith Street site shutting in 2009. 

Little's later projects included the Notting Hill deli Tavola, and more recently his eponymous online soup and sauce delivery business By Alastair Little. 

Writing on Twitter earlier today (3 August), The Michelin Guide for Great Britain & Ireland called Little 'a self-taught, intelligent & articulate chef who was ahead of his time'.

“His eponymous Soho restaurant influenced a generation of chefs and restaurateurs and the British food scene owes him so much. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

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