Egon Ronay, the food critic who helped transform British eating habits, died today aged 94.
Ronay, who launched the era of restaurant reviews with the Egon Ronay guides, had been ill for a number of weeks.
He died this morning at his home in Berkshire with his wife Barbara and two daughters by his side, close friend and broadcaster Nick Ross said.
The former restaurateur became one of the world's most famous reviewers, setting standards throughout the 1960s, '70s and '80s.
He remained the doyen of food critics until well into his 70s and was continuously called upon for his culinary advice.
Ross, who said he had known the critic for some 15 or 20 years, said: "He was, in the most literal sense, incredible, right up until the last few weeks of his life. He was sharp as a button.
"We went for a tasting with him four months ago and he had this remarkable ability to taste flavours in anything.
"Right up until his death, even young chefs regarded him as the monarch.
"He was a tiny man but had no airs and graces about him and yet he was almost fawned upon by restaurateurs right up until his last illness."
The son of a prominent restaurateur in Budapest whose business was destroyed by the Nazi and the Soviet advances, Ronay escaped from communist Hungary after the war and settled as a refugee in London.
He managed restaurants before opening his own place in Knightsbridge.
But he soon became determined to improve the general quality of eating out in Britain which had long been subject to rationing and austerity.
Ronay's health is understood to have deteriorated rapidly following his brief illness.
He died at 8.15am this morning at his home near the village of Yattendon.
His widow and daughters, Edina and Esther, were too upset to speak this afternoon.