Keith Floyd became a household name by becoming the first TV chef to step out of the studio and cook on location, where his love and enjoyment of food and wine oozed out of the small screen.
Television had never before seen the likes of a chef such as Keith Floyd. Previously, cooking on TV had been orderly, tightly scripted and largely educational. With the arrival of Floyd it became fun, often chaotic and highly entertaining. His larger than life personality – with his trademark glass of red wine in hand – undoubtedly paved the way for the likes of Jamie, Gordon and Nigella who have since followed in his footsteps.
Keith Floyd’s success, though, as a superstar TV chef – he presented 19 series, initially for the BBC and later for Channel 5 – and an author of some 27 books, has not been mirrored in his private life, which has been littered with a string of failed pubs, restaurants and four marriages, and more recently, poor health.
Born in Somerset in 1943, Keith Floyd attended Wellington School. After a short career as a journalist on the Bristol Evening Post, he joined the army, where as a 2nd lieutenant in the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment in Germany he began experimenting with food. Floyd’s Night in the officers’ mess soon became a greatly anticipated event, where the likes of gigot d’agneau Romarin went down a storm.
After leaving the army, Floyd worked as a barman, dishwasher and vegetable peeler in a host of restaurants in London and France. By 1971 he owned three restaurants in Bristol, eventually selling them to fund his first divorce and a two year sailing adventure with friends in the Mediterranean on a boat called Flirty.
To help boost his finances, Floyd started exporting French wine to the UK and, in return, imported antiques from the UK to France. Over the years he has also run a succession of restaurants in the UK, France and Spain, but none have endured with Floyd admitting that he is “a shockingly bad” businessman. The Maltsters Arms, a pub and restaurant he owned in Tuckenhay, near Totnes, Devon, which was also known as Floyd’s Inn (Sometimes), went into receivership with debts of £500,000, in 2001. Today, Floyd’s solitary restaurant interest is Floyd’s Brasserie at the luxury Burasari resort in Phuket, Thailand.
It was whilst working in a restaurant he ran in Bristol in 1984, that he was spotted by the TV producer, David Pritchard, a meeting which ultimately led to his first television programme, Floyd on Fish. The series was an instant success and led to a plethora of other programmes including Floyd on France, Floyd on Italy. Far Flung Floyd and Floyd on Oz. Over the years his TV programmes have been shown in more than 40 countries worldwide. Floyd says his television career was a complete accident, insisting that he never asked to be on the small screen.
While a host of books accompanied the programmes, there have also been a number of stand alone books including his latest three offerings, A Splash and a Dash: Cooking with Keith Floyd, Keith Floyd’s Thai Food and Floyd’s China.
In recent years, Floyd has performed a one-man show throughout Britain’s provincial theatres, including an extended stint at the Linthwaite House Hotel, Lake Windermere, Cumbria.
Floyd died following a heart attack aged 65 in September. He leaves two children, a son Patrick, and a daughter Poppy.
KEITH FLOYD IN THE NEWS
KEITH FLOYD RECIPE LINKS
Cooking duck in Champagne with Matt Dawson on YouTube >>
KEITH FLOYD ON THE WEB
Keith Floyd’s official website >>
Matthew Fort on why we love Keith Floyd in The Guardian >>
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