Mark Hix: Shambolic but one of the greats

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The Independent Online

Floyd's last lunch was at my restaurant in Lyme Regis. He'd visited some of my London restaurants before but I'd never seen him down in Dorset. He ordered grouse and the boys delivered him partridge by mistake; though I think he saw the funny side. I was away that day but my staff called me to tell me he'd eaten there. He wrote me a little note inviting me to his book launch next month. That was the last I saw of him; I heard the news this morning along with everyone else.

He was one of those great people who was a bit of an icon among cooks; he was probably one of the original television chefs, one of the first to play with the audience and the crew. When Floyd arrived on television in the mid 1980s, all the other programmes were filmed in a studio. And he was the one that took cooking out on location. You'd get to know the area, where the dish came from, the history of that dish, what goes into it, the possible variations – all sorts of things.

And yes at times it was a little shambolic, but it was always educational. He also helped discover new talent. He was the person who first came across Rick Stein and helped launch his career – and you can see the similarities in their programmes.

I was a fan, along with everyone else; he was flamboyant and he didn't take it too seriously which is rare in this industry. He was always having a bit of a joke with a glass of wine in his hand.

Recently he has criticised some modern TV chefs and, as the father of TV cooking, I suppose he was entitled to. In many ways he had a point. When he began his television career there weren't anywhere near as many mass-produced shows as there are now.

He was also known to like a drink but the food and restaurant business is rife with alcoholism; it's almost part of the job. Some really take things to the extreme and end up with problems; it's because your life revolves around parties and celebrations and drinking.