Bill Granger, Australia’s brunch king and cookbook author, dies aged 54 on Christmas Day

The Melbourne-born chef, author and restaurateur, who helped introduce Australian café culture to the world, passed away on Monday 25 December 2023.
Bill Granger dies. The famous cook, author and restaurater Bill Granger behind cafes Bills and Granger and Co

Bill Granger at Bills Bondi Beach

Anson Smart

The king of Australian brunch culture and much-loved cookbook author Bill Granger has died on Christmas Day. He was 54 years old.

“It is with great sadness that the family of Bill Granger announce he has passed away on 25th December… A dedicated husband and father, Bill died peacefully in hospital with his wife Natalie Elliott and three daughters, Edie, Inès and Bunny, at his bedside in their adopted home of London,” said a spokesperson for the family.

Responsible for transforming the humble café into destination dining, Bill Granger introduced Australian café culture – and avo toast – to the world.

The self-taught cook became a household name in Australia in the ’90s, after opening his eponymous café in 1993 in Sydney’s Darlinghurst. The pokey, light-filled and easy-going café on Liverpool Street still features a central communal table and churns out some of the best buttery scrambled eggs in town.

But ricotta hotcakes, avocado toast and sunshine-coloured eggs were just the beginning of the Sydney café Tzar’s impressive 30-year career.

After the success of his Darlinghurst café, he went on to open more venues in Sydney, as well as in London, Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and Seoul. He also authored 14 cookbooks and made five cooking TV series. Today, there are 19 of Bill Granger’s self-named restaurants, Bills and Granger & Co., in operation.

Earlier this year, Granger was honoured with the Medal of the Order of Australia for his significant contribution to hospitality and tourism.

“He will be remembered as the ‘King of Breakfast’, for making unpretentious food into something special filled with sunshine and for spurring the growth of Australian informal and communal eating around the world,” said the spokesperson. “He will be deeply missed by all, with his loss most profoundly felt by his adored family.”

Friends and fellow hospitality stars such as Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Sean Moran, Martin Boetz, Chris Lucas, Mark Best, Hetty Mckinnon, Matt Preston and many more shared their grief and condolences alongside the family’s announcement on Instagram.

“This is devastating news, I’m so sad to hear this, what a guy he was… a wonderful human, kind calm soul… I admired everything he represented in food.” – Jamie Oliver

“I’m heartbroken to hear this. So cruel.” – Nigella Lawson

“Way too soon. What a class act you were Bill. Thank you for everything you have done to put Australian food on a global stage. You will be greatly missed.” – Sean Moran

“This is sad news, I was at Darley Street Thai when I first met Bill at his Darlinghurst cafe which was an inspiration. I’m honestly in shock. Sending love to Nat and their gorgeous girls.” – Martin Boetz

“So saddened by the news of the passing of @bill.granger at such a young age. He will be warmly remembered for taking Australian cafe culture to the world. A thoroughly decent person, a great loss. Vale @bill.granger. – Chris Lucas

“A gorgeous man leaving behind a beautiful family. So sorry for your loss.” – Mark Best

“This is devastating. Iconic in Surry Hills and then all over the world. So very sad to hear this.” – Hetty McKinnon

“So sorry to hear this news. Bill was a geniunely lovely bloke and an inspiration. Together he (with Natalie by his side) helped shape the image of modern Australian food around the world.” – Matt Preston

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