Darren Simpson, an Irish celebrity chef based in Australia, has died after a long battle with alcohol addiction and related illness. He is believed to have suffered a fatal heart attack in a hospital on June 21, according to The Daily Telegraph. He had recently been attempting rehabilitation in a clinic near his home in Byron Bay on Australia’s east coast.
The husband and father of two began his career in Northern Ireland, where he was born. At age 21, Simpson was named the U.K.’s Young Chef of the Year — the youngest winner ever to receive the prestigious award, which is open to all U.K. chefs under the age of 25. At the beginning of his career he worked and trained at some of London’s best restaurants, including Clarke’s, Bibendum, and The River Café.
In 1999 Simpson moved to Australia after he was head-hunted to become the head chef of Aqua Luna Bar and Restaurant in Sydney. His later projects saw him become executive chef and co-owner of La Sala, a modern, award winning, 120-seat Italian restaurant, also in Sydney.
Simpson’s food was daringly simple, with dishes designed to highlight the quality of seasonal ingredients, which he carefully sourced.
Simpson made regular appearances on British and Australian television (as a judge on the hot reality show My Restaurant Rules, to name just one) and contributed to many international publications as a food editor, feature writer, and contributor.
Simpson was also involved in many food-related charities: As well as being ambassador for The Children’s Food Education Foundation, he also dedicated time over the years to The Children’s Food Education Foundation and Camp Canteen. He also campaigned for non-GM (genetically modified) foods with Greenpeace and cooked with other chefs for Oxfam Community Aid Abroad for five consecutive years.
Friend and peer Jason Roberts wrote in a Facebook post: “Devastated ...... RIP Darren Simpson !!! The world has lost another brilliant mind!!!! Sorry for those of you who maybe seeing or hearing this now.”