Tributes are being paid to Reg Johnson, the famous Goosnargh duck and corn-fed chicken producer, who has died aged 64.
Chefs and colleagues, including head chef and restaurateur Paul Heathcote, who was one of Johnson's first customers at his Johnson and Swarbrick business in Lancashire, Marcus Wareing, Jeff Galvin, Michael Wignall and chef Allan Pickett have been among those to post tweets and messages in remembrance of Johnson, who has been commended as a pillar of the restaurant and butchery industries, and as a "food hero" and "true gent".
The cause of death has not yet been confirmed.
Heathcote told The Caterer
"He very quickly built up the business and started delivering to London. He was very proud of his produce, and extremely proud of the chefs he worked with, such as Michael Wignall, Gordon Ramsay and Albert Roux. It meant a lot to him that Albert Roux took his produce with him into his consultancies, and he was equally proud to supply Le Manoir. And, of course, Goosnargh became synonymous for one thing - his ducks.
"His family are very involved in the business and that will be his legacy - he just handed it to them sooner than any of us expected.
Other tributes have come from Darren Goodwin at the Losehill House hotel and spa in Derbyshire, Colin Manning at 60 Hope Street in Merseyside and the High Moor restaurant team in Wigan, while the online chef-commentator ChefHermes called Johnson a "legend".
Tweets so far have included:
Restaurant Marcus, @Marcussw1: Very sad to hear. Such a lovely, lovely man. RIP.
Kenny Atkinson, @KennyAtkinson1: Bloody hell, I was only talking to him last month, very sad new2s, our thoughts go to his family #RIP Reggie #Goosnargh
Jeff Galvin, @JeffGalvin1: So sad to hear the passing of Reg Johnson, not embarrassed to say shedding a tear waiting for my train. God bless Reggie x @Galvin_brothers
Alan Murchison, @AlanMurchison: A real gentleman, once drove all the way to London to sort my ducks for GBM, sad news.
Alan Bird, @ChefBird: That is tragic news, what a sad loss xxx
Michael Wignall, @MichaelWignall_ : Such sad news, lost for words.
Kevin Gratton, @KevGrattonChef: RIP Reg Johnson…! One of the finest UK producers…top Northern bloke…a friend.
Darren Goodwin, @darrengdwn: Deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Reg Johnson, what a true food hero.
High Moor Restaurant, @High_Moor: Very sad news today a massive loss to our industry RIP Reg Johnson #Goosnargh our thoughts are with his family he will be sadly missed x
Colin Manning, @colinmanning: Very sad to hear the passing of a true gent & food hero Reg Johnson #Goosnargh condolences to all at J & S from @60HopeSt.
Johnson and Swarbrick is a well-known and much-loved poultry supplier and duck specialist, with a reputation for producing high-quality duckling and corn-fed chicken. Based at Swainson House Farm in Goosnargh, Johnson and Bud Swarbrick first teamed up as a small-scale operation in the 1960s, when the site was mainly a dairy farm with laying poultry and pigs.