Food and Drink: The man who ate everything

Ten years ago Jeremy Round, The Independent's food writer, died tragically young. We launch a competition in his memory, and fellow foodies celebrate his work

IT WAS the summer of 1986. The incubating `Independent' wanted a food writer to expand the often stale and pompous formula of recipe and restaurant write-ups in its rivals. I spotted a little piece in `Harper's & Queen' by a young man called Jeremy Round, and asked him to come in for a chat. He was knowledgeable, totally lacking in pretension and great fun. He wrote like a dream and his real ambition was to write poetry. He got the job. He was 29. Only three years later, Jeremy won simultaneously the Glenfiddich restaurant writer of the year award, and the trophy for overall winner of the competition `for his special and significant contribution to the raising the standard and our knowledge of what we eat'. His restaurant reviews won not only the respect of his readers but of the likes of Raymond Blanc, Marco Pierre White and Nico Ladenis. A series highlighting the best produce available each month and how to cook it formed the basis of his book, `The Independent Cook'.There were virgin olive oil tasting sessions and a campaign for real bread. Staple fare these days, but not back then. By 1989 he was ready to head for the United States, to travel and write about other things. Shortly before he was due to leave, he died unexpectedly. I always knew he would be irreplaceable. He was.

Hilly Janes

Last year Jeffrey Steingarten published a selection of his stimulating pieces from American Vogue under the title The Man Who Ate Everything. The man who really ate everything was Jeremy Round. I know because I watched him at work. Jeremy not only tackled everything in sight, but went out of his way to suss out foods we'd never heard of. I'm not saying he was greedy, but he had an almost limitless curiosity and a droll sense of the ridiculous. His enthusiasm for the novel spilled over into his column. Whether it was Afghan rice pudding or hominy grits, Jeremy was ready with a spoon and fork.

Derek Cooper, BBC food broadcaster

HE WAS a rare man - he hasn't been replaced. His knowledge was first rate and he was a great all-rounder. He was very unusual in that he would be writing an article, for example about endive, and he'd ring me up and say "tell me three or four things that you'd do with endive" -a perfect example of his professionalism and humility. He was a critic and food journalist with a tremendous amount of integrity.

Marco Pierre White, Oak Room

I MET Jeremy Round at the first of an occasional, and blessedly short- lived, series of lunches and dinners where "the critics" cooked for "the chefs". His gentle manner, disarming wit and ease with all those around him confirmed to me all that I had envisaged him to be from reading his column in The Independent. On future occasions, Jeremy, his boyfriend Jeremy Trevethan and I would meet for - tragically - only a few further jolly dinners and lunches. One of these was a lunch at Kensington Place, where what began as a kind of interview with me for an article careered most successfully into dinner, too. Now I come to think of it, such misbehaviour could really not have happened with anyone else.

Simon Hopkinson

JEREMY CAME to interview me. We had both recently been travelling in Turkey. After he finished asking me questions, he described with extraordinary passion and humour his travelling experiences, the food he had eaten, the people he had met. Then, for almost an hour, we discussed the role of the food writer and how best to fulfil the obligations; about integrity and authenticity, and about passing on the joys of good food. Being with him was always uplifting, and there was a kind of innocence. He was also great fun.

Claudia Roden, food writer

WHAT I appreciated most in Jeremy was his wit, often self-deprecatory. And what I chose to represent him, with his warm approval, in an anthology of writing about food was a poem ["Utopia"] he wrote on realising, from something Paul Levy had written, that he had hitherto been part of the vulgar herd who did not know that tea is seldom drunk with food in China. It began:

Just once to get it all right! / To wake having had enough sleep, alert / To spring at a day of sufficient exercise, / Balanced diet, faultless personal hygiene, / And satisfying creative endeavour.

And ended with the thought:

That some day just imaginable, either no one who doesn't / Will be thought vulgar, or everyone will know how / Seldom tea is drunk with food in China.

Alan Davidson, food writer

"AT THE time Jeremy died I thought he was a typical Mercutio, one of my favourite characters - the beguiling swagger, the panache, the total refusal to take himself and his work over- seriously, the charm, and the smile."

Elizabeth David in a letter to Paul Bailey, the novelist, 25 October 1990

JEREMY ROUND was a bon viveur. He was a person that bit into life, enjoying it shamelessly with no guilt, unlike most English people. Besides that, though, he was an extremely serious food writer. He was not only interested in restaurants, but also supermarkets, the food chain, all food issues. He was very interested in bringing the consumer to be far more critical and demanding. He criticised in a very honest way, but was never blunt. He had such a passion for food that he could easily deconstruct the food itself. Few critics can do that.

Raymond Blanc, Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons

THERE WAS supposed to be a degree of competitiveness in the air, but when I found myself cooking side by side with Jeremy in a competition, we talked and talked, as he lovingly slashed his leg of lamb. Good cook as he was, Jeremy decided that the pen was mightier than the Sabatier, and his Saturday columns became a must-read. They reflected Jeremy so well, an immense passion for food allied with a straight-forwardness, a naturally elegant turn of phrase coupled with a joyous deflating of over-large egos. Jeremy 10 years on would have been a strong voice against humbug, sycophancy and low standards, imperfectly masked by spurious innovation.

Frances Bissell, food writer

HE HAD a delightfully naughty sense of humour and loved a good gossip. He brought a breath of fresh air to food-writing that blossomed at The Independent. He wrote with interest and curiosity, in a way that made the production and preparation of food seem interesting, accessible and relevant to daily life. He had a knack of wearing his knowledge lightly, never afraid to own up when he didn't know something.

Lindsey Bareham, food writer

I HAVE two abiding memories of Jeremy. The first, when he came for lunch at the restaurant. I talked to him afterwards and he said, "I especially liked everything". My other memory is of being with him when he won the Glenfiddich trophy, and he literally fell over backwards. He was a delightfully modest, unassuming man. His appetite and enthusiasm are sorely missed.

Rowley Leigh, Kensington Place

JEREMY ROUND, The Independent and British taste came together with happy synchronicity. The nation was starting to accept that food mattered. Food writers and restaurant critics did not write about country cooks in those still recent days: or if they did it was to score metroland points off uncivilised bumpkins. Jeremy was more generous, and in consequence more appreciated and more informative.

Tom Jaine, ex-editor `Good Food Guide'

JEREMY WOULD have hugely applauded the outbreak of foodism that has followed since his death. Nothing, I suspect, could have pleased him more. Food was only a part of his passion: people were an equal inspiration to him. His writing was just a fusion of his excitement and huge curiosity about both. He was a fastidious cook, rarely veering from a recipe he was following, but always remembering that whoever he was cooking for did or did not like something. I still recall his recipe for a perfect Bloody Mary, and if he were here we would be arguing over whether the celery should be chopped or not. At which point, I am sure, Jeremy would have got up and insisted we make some more to compare.

Drew Smith, ex-editor

`Good Food Guide'

MY FRIENDSHIP with Jeremy was completely unprofessional in that I considered we were friends rather than fellow food-writers. I did really enjoy his writing and his way of looking at things. We would find the same things funny - he was quite a bit younger than me, but he had an ageless quality. We used to have marvellous food orgies together. I have a photo of him eating stuffed baby octopus in Portugal with black ink pouring down his chin. Rather like a madly happy Dracula.

Josceline Dimbleby, food writer

I REMEMBER a visit to Istanbul with Jeremy. He knew all the best kebab houses and cafes, pudding and pastry shops. He introduced me to delicious street food, from stuffed mussels to mastic ice cream. He spoke Turkish fluently and had absorbed enough of the street culture to barter like a local. It was a riotous few days; Jeremy was fun to be with and did everything with panache. He was droll, witty, entertaining and very knowledgeable - all qualities which he brought to his writing.

Jill Norman, writer and publishing consultant

JEREMY LOVED food, wine and people, although not necessarily in that order. You couldn't help but be disarmed and seduced by his gentle good humour and sensitivity. Though he had no time for the pretensions of foodie dogma, he was a tolerant, constructive critic with a fascination for blending fresh ingredients to create distinctive flavours. An innovative cook, he deligh- ted particularly in all things Turkish.

Anthony Rose

HE WAS the bearer of the food torch which passed from Elizabeth David to Jane Grigson to him. Usually there's one person who's head and shoulders above his contemporaries, and he was that one. And I'm not saying that just because he's dead. No one matched his eclecticism and wit, his wicked humour. I still use his book Independent Cook and I will not lend it to anyone - I'm paranoid someone will nick it.

Clarissa Dickson Wright, food writer

`Jeremy Round's Independent Cook' will be re-issued next April by Pan

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Mitch Winehouse is releasing a new album

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him

music
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event

film
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star