Tributes have been pouring in for renowned chef and competition judge Eric Bruce (pictured here with his wife, Beb), who passed away on Wednesday evening following a battle with cancer. He was 62.
Eric, who ran the two-AA-rosette Restaurant Severn in Ironbridge, Shropshire, with his wife Beb, had pancreatic cancer.
A passionate competition judge, Eric had a respected hotel career before moving into the restaurant sector with his wife.
Born in Upton Park in the heart of London's East End, Eric joined Trust House Hotels when he was 14 as an apprentice chef. He worked for the company for 12 years, during which time he spent four years at the Café Royal in Regent Street, London where he was responsible for its Michelin-starred Grill Room.
Eric then moved into the role of executive chef at the Kensington Palace hotel, in London, before moving to the Tower Thistle hotel, also in London, and the five-star De Vere Royal Bath in Bournemouth.
After seven years at the Royal Bath, Eric transferred to the De Vere Belfry golf resort in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham. During his nine years in charge of the kitchens, Eric catered for numerous celebrities and golf tournaments including The Ryder Cup, Benson and Hedges International Open and the English Open.
Following 12 years in education, Eric's wife Beb joined him at the Belfry as head pastry chef, where she was responsible for the desserts in five public restaurants and 21 function suites.
The pair opened their own restaurant, the Navigation Inn and Warehouse restaurant in Maesbury Marsh, Oswestry, where they achieved two AA rosettes for their cuisine and four red diamonds for accommodation. They sold The Navigation in 2004.
They opened Restaurant Severn, their second venture, where Beb was known for cooking the starters and desserts, and Eric's domain was the main courses, also achieving two AA rosettes. The restaurant has been recommended by the Michelin guide since 2007.
Eric was not only a competition judge but a passionate competition chef himself, amassing 60 trophies personally. He was past chairman of The Midland Association of Chefs and vice president of the British Culinary Federation. He was well known for judging at both national and international levels. Earlier this year, the British Culinary Federation recognised him with the Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual awards.
John Retallick, vice-president and governor of the Craft Guild of Chefs, told The Caterer: "I have received so many emails from friends and colleagues all saying similar things: that he was a dedicated chef who loved the industry - he lived and breathed it. He was one of the industry's gentlemen. A great passion was his love of the customer and he loved to walk the restaurant floor, wherever he worked."
Fellow chefs and competition judges paid tribute to Eric on social media.
Writing on Facebook yesterday, John Retallick said: "I have just received the saddest of news that my good friend and consummate professional chef Eric Bruce passed away last night [Wednesday]. He had been suffering from that dreadful disease - pancreatic cancer. RIP Eric. Eric was a true professional and a good human being. He will certainly be sadly missed."
Chef and competition judge Terry Woolcock said: "Sad news for all my culinary friends - the passing of chef Eric Bruce."
Stuart Mcleod, managing director of Zuidam, commented: "A very sad day, my good friend, mentor and top industry colleague Eric Bruce has passed. RIP Eric you will be sorely missed."
Brian Mellor, chef-patron at Harthill Cookery School in Chester said: "I was fortunate enough to be judged by this chef and judge alongside him. Sleep well chef."
Toby Beevers, an account manager with Purchasing Systems, added: "It's a sad day, RIP Eric Bruce, the culinary world has lost a true gentleman and mentor. Thanks for your commitment to the culinary industry, especially here in Wales where you'll always be remembered."
Speaking on Twitter, chef Tweets by ChrisTanner07 , co-owner of the Kentish Hare in Bidborough near Royal Tunbridge Wells, said: "Eric Bruce one of the genuine ones, a gifted chef who cared, so many memories of a true gentleman. He came down to Plymouth in July with his family and as usual we laughed! He was a true gent we will miss him but always remember him."
Tweets by Essential_Gary , South West business development manager for Essential Cuisine said: "Terribly sad to hear the passing of Eric Bruce, privileged to call him my friend, One of the greatest. RIP chef, thanks for everything."
And Craft Guild of Chefs ambassador and chef Tweets by stephenscuffell said: "It is so sad that we have lost such a great chef competitor mentor and judge and a great friend Eric Bruce. RIP mate."
Latest video from The Caterer
Are you looking for a new role? See all the current hospitality vacancies available with The Caterer Jobs >>