Paul Kitching, who made his name as the chef behind Michelin-starred Juniper in Altrincham, has died suddenly at the age of 61.
His death was announced by his partner, Katie O’Brian, who said: “My love has gone. But what a love.”
Kitching opened Juniper on The Downs in November 1995 and quickly established it as one of the best restaurants in Greater Manchester.
A first Michelin star followed in 1997 and Kitching retained it for 11 consecutive years before moving to Edinburgh to open 21212 restaurant.
Juniper also gained four AA rosettes and in 2003 was named as England’s Restaurant of the Year by the Good Food Guide.
At the time Gordon Ramsay described him as “pure talent, driven by a great creative energy; a powerhouse of the north.”
Kitching achieved similar success in Scotland, winning a Michelin star between 2009 and 2019.
Communicating the news of his death to the restaurant’s mailing list, O’Brian said: “Dear friends, It is with heavy heart that I write to let you know that I’ve lost my love – Paul – who sadly passed away yesterday.
“The death has come as a total shock to us at 21212 and we are trying to come to terms with the passing of a legend within our industry. Paul was an inspirational figure to everyone who ever had the pleasure of meeting him or working with him and we are all devastated.”
Tributes poured in from the likes of chef Simon Rogan, who said he was “a great man and massive talent. There was no one like him. I’ll never forget the nuttiest but most memorable meals. A true inspiration to me.”
The Michelin Guide tweeted: “Paul Kitching was kind, clever, hugely talented and infectiously enthusiastic. He was also a true maverick and his passion and creativity were evident in every dish he created. Our heartfelt sympathies go to Katie and all his family.”