Former chef Peter Kay, a consultant to Hospitality Action's Ark Foundation and a founder of the Sporting Chance Clinic, has passed away. He was 52.
Penny Moore, chief executive of Hospitality Action, said: "We are all shocked by the announcement of Peter's passing. Peter was an amazing presenter, and so passionate in his work to help young people. He will be greatly missed by the charity and those he knew in the hospitality industry."
Kay, a former drink and drugs addict, was well known for his work with the Ark Foundation, which was founded by fellow former alcoholic Michael Quinn in 2001.
Aware of the drink and drug rehabilitation work Kay was doing with the Sporting Chance Clinic, Quinn asked Kay to join the Ark more than a decade ago. The charity is devoted to providing awareness of the dangers of alcohol and drugs within the industry.
As a presenter for the Ark Foundation, Kay adapted a seminar he had successfully developed for football clubs for the catering industry, aimed
specifically at students attending catering colleges. The idea was to impart knowledge about the dangers of alcohol and drugs, not to lecture.
Philip Howard, chef-proprietor of the Square, London, who was interviewed by Kay for Caterer in 2009, about his own issue with drugs, commented: "Without a doubt the most soul-searching interview of my life was conducted by Peter, on the subject of drugs in the hospitality industry. It was a hugely personal event, between two recovering addicts, and one that I have reflected upon many times since. I am deeply saddened by his death and the difficult and troubled world of addiction has lost a man who committed his time to the helping of others."
Kay trained as a chef at Westminster College in the late 1970s. In 2010, he told Caterer: "Inspirational mentors in my life then were the Savoy's Silvino Trompetto, Bev Puxley from Westminster College, and Stephen Bull. I had a severe problem with taking orders from men, but I really blossomed when I felt inspired, noticed and respected. They pointed out to me my qualities, so that when it was necessary to be told my detrimental characteristics, I listened. Shouting doesn't work for me. These are simple tools I implement with those that I support and mentor now."
He spent two years in South Africa working at a five-star hotel, and returned home to work, in short spells, at London's Inn on the Park (now the Four Seasons London on Park Lane), the Richmond Gate hotel and a restaurant called Cezanne. He then became executive chef for a leading merchant bank in the City, and this was followed by a similar post at the British American Tobacco headquarters in Victoria.
However, having battled with drink and drugs for many years, it finally took its full grip and he was faced with a long period in hospital where he was treated for an inflamed pancreas, collapsed lung, kidney failure and multiple cardiac arrests. He spent 21 days in a coma and wasn't expected to survive.
After a long recovery period, Kay went on to open his own restaurant-cum-café in Ham, in west London, but his health was declining and after suffering a mild attack of pancreatitis, he knew he could no longer work as a chef.
A meeting with former Arsenal and England defender Tony Adams, also a recovering alcoholic, led them to launch the Sporting Chance Clinic in 2000, and in 2008 Adams asked Kay to become chief executive. In recent years, Sporting Chance has helped sport starts including Paul Gascoigne, Joey Barton and Paul Merson.
Speaking about his involvement with the Ark Foundation back in 2010, former Hospitality Action chief executive Jim Stephenson said: "I don't think anyone could underestimate the influence and effect Peter Kay has on those attending Ark seminars. His approach to such a sensitive issue is unique. To openly address complete strangers about how his life was virtually destroyed by alcohol and drug abuse, while creating a positive spin on how he turned his life around, is truly inspiring."
Quinn and Kay were awarded the Catey Special Award in 2007 for their work for the Ark Foundation.
Kay told Caterer in 2010. "I give as much back to the industry as I can, but the truth is, I've taken from catering far more than it has taken from me."
He leaves behind three daughters, Naomi, Francesca and Harriet.