Milsom Hotels has paid tribute to its long-time chef Terry Barber, who died this month at the age of 80.
Barber grew up in one of the cottages by the entrance to the Talbooth restaurant in Dedham, Essex, and was 10 years old when the Milsom family purchased it in 1952.
At the age of 12 he helped in the kitchens after school and had to stand on an orange box to reach the worktop to help make cakes for the afternoon tea service.
After leaving school Barber trained as a chef at the Colchester Institute and spent a year working at the Bahnhof Buffet in Zurch. On his return to the UK, he was appointed head chef at the Dedham Vale hotel, which was run by Arthur and Dorothy Milsom, grandparents of Milsom Hotels' current managing director Paul Milsom, and worked there until 1994, when he became executive chef of the Talbooth restaurant.
Barber had specific responsibility for the banqueting business both in-house and via outside catering. This saw him twice cook for the Queen and mastermind the Colchester Oyster Feast on more than 20 occasions.
Barber was a member of the Master Chefs of Great Britain and Milsom Hotels said he had become a "very recognisable face of the business carving beef on a Sunday lunch" who had helped "generations of younger chefs" early in their careers. He retired in 2014.
Paul Milsom said: "Terry was a tower of strength to our business for over 60 years, which must be a record. He was always absolutely dedicated and willing to take on board new challenges – a true Master Chef of Great Britain.
"In the midst of all the frenetic activity that happens in a restaurant kitchen Terry was always a voice of calm, he was an example to us all and we shall miss him enormously".