Shock waves ricocheted around the hospitality industry with the announcement that multi award-winning restaurateur, author and broadcaster Russell Norman has died at the age of 57 years old.
Although details about his passing are scarce at this stage, Richard Beatty – the co-founder of POLPO and SPUNTINO – has shared the following statement: ‘It is with the greatest sadness I announce the loss of my best friend Russell Norman. After a short battle in hospital, he died surrounded by family and friends. Russell is survived by his wife and three children, and I ask that you respect the privacy of his family, friends and colleagues at this time.’
Russell Norman co-founded POLPO and SPUNTINO with Richard and was also the brains behind the hugely brilliant BRUTTO in Farringdon. BRUTTO has ranked amongst the best restaurants in London since it opened in 2021 and will continue to trade under the leadership of his son Ollie and wife Jules.
Russell’s talents were not limited to just restaurants though. He was also the author of three cookbooks: his first being POLPO: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts), followed by SPUNTINO – Comfort Food (New York Style) and Venice: Four Seasons of Home Cooking.
The announcement of his passing was made in a post on Instagram by Restaurant Magazine. Tributes to the chef have since poured in from the food world:
Robin Gill: 'I actually am totally shocked. What an absolute legend of a person. We have all been inspired by this man that changed the London restaurant scene when it needed it most.’
Jeremy Lee: 'Shocked and saddened by the sudden news of Russel Norman who passed earlier today x a unique x brilliant talent x a brightest of lights and great chum of old x x way too young and way too soon x x x x.'
James Martin: 'Just heard the news that today we lost a giant and a legend in the restaurant world, Russell Norman, who was and will always be a inspiration for so many. My thoughts go to his friends and family. RIP, such sad news.'
Jay Rayner: 'He was one of the most gifted of restaurateurs, a terrific writer and an awful lot of fun to be around. He very much lived life his own way. My thoughts are with his family and friends.'
Jason Atherton: 'The London restaurant scene lost one of its most loved and successful restaurateurs. Russell was an inspiration to all of us and made dining out cool. He was a great person to be around and was always optimistic and full of life. Our love goes to his family and his team at Brutto a magnificent restaurant rest in peace and god bless.'
Matt Tebbutt: 'Very shocked to hear of the sudden death of Russell Norman. An enormous talent as a chef, hugely successful restaurateur and just an all round nice guy. He will be sorely missed. Cheers for the Negronis, Russell!'
Russell’s latest book was published earlier this month: BRUTTO: A Simple Florentine Cookbook, which follows the creation of his famous trattoria.
You can read our review of BRUTTO here - one of the best Italian restaurants in London, and also one of SquareMeal's Top 100 Restaurants in London.