Darren Simpson, the Northern Irish chef and former Acorn award winner, who found fame in Australia as an executive chef and TV presenter, has died.
Simpson is thought to have suffered a heart attack on Thursday 22 June following a long battle with alcohol addiction-related illness. Australian publication the Daily Telegraph reported that he had recently attempted rehabilitation at a clinic and then a hospital near his home in Byron Bay.
From 1992 to 1999 Simpson trained and worked in some of the UK and Ireland's top restaurants, including Paul Rankin's Roscoff in Ireland, Le Gavroche in London under Albert Roux, Sally Clarke's in London, Bibendum and the River Café.
He was voted Young Chef of the Year in 1992 and was a finalist in the Académie Culinaire de France's Annual Awards of Excellence in the same year.
When he was aged 25 and working as head chef of Sir Terence Conran's Sartoria in London's Savile Row, he won an Acorn award from The Caterer.
In 1999, he was headhunted to become the head chef and shareholder of Aqua Luna bar and restaurant in Sydney, Australia. In 2005, he became executive chef at La Sala in Sydney, before becoming executive chef of Barrenjoey House on Palm Beach to the north of the city. In March 2010, he became executive chef for La Scala in Sydney's Paddington area.
During his time in Australia, Simpson built a career as a TV personality, appearing on several shows, including programmes on the Lifestyle Food Channel and on shows such as Ready Steady Cook. He also presided as a judge on hit reality show My Restaurant Rules.
News of Simpson's death was met with tributes from his fellow chefs on social media.
Bruno Loubet, chef-patron of Grain Store in London tweeted:
So sad to hear of Darren Simpson's passing! My thoughts are with his family! RIP! https://t.co/JzNktBrffX
— Bruno Loubet (@Bruno_Loubet)
Adam Moore, corporate executive chef at Cerebos in Australia, tweeted:
R.I.P Darren Simpson you will be missed chef loved working with you.
— Adam Moore (@Chef_AdamMoore)
And Andrew Ballard, Unilever FS Culinary Services chef for Australasia said:
Such sad news to hear of my former colleague Darren Simpson passing away today. RIP Dazza.
— Andrew Ballard (@andreweballard)