Jeremy Strode, one of the most widely liked and admired members of Australia's hospitality community, died today in Sydney. A spokesperson for his employer, the Merivale group, confirmed that Strode, 54, had taken his own life.
Strode, a British native, was known as a supremely capable chef who trained with some of Europe's best before moving to Australia and becoming part of the Brit-pack push that shaped Melbourne dining in the 1990s.
He started his career washing dishes as a 14-year-old; by 24 he was working in a three-starred restaurant, the Waterside Inn at Bray, with Michel Roux, and before he moved to Australia in 1992 he had done time with such illustrious names as Pierre Koffmann and Roger Vergé.
Strode cut a swathe through the restaurants of Melbourne - The George, Langtons, The Adelphi and his own Pomme among them. He won a new legion of loyal fans after moving to Sydney in 2002 to join MG Garage. He went on to open Bistrode in Surry Hills with his wife and fellow chef, Jane Strode, before he teamed up with the Merivale group to take the restaurant to King Street where it has traded as Bistrode CBD since 2010. Strode also oversaw the kitchen at The Fish Shop in Potts Point.
A dazzlingly proficient technician, Strode's dexterity was nonetheless matched by his sense of taste and restraint. And for all his virtuosity in the kitchen, he will be remembered perhaps most keenly by those in the trade as a very generous man, someone who was always more than willing to share his skills, especially with young chefs.
"The kids who were working with us didn't know how much they were learning until after they'd left and gone to other kitchens," he told GT in 2012, speaking of his early days in Melbourne kitchens.
He was also an eager participant in charity work, and in 2015 convened a dinner with the Merivale group in support of R U OK?, raising awareness around suicide and depression.
"Jeremy was such a kind and quietly thoughtful man," said Merivale CEO Justin Hemmes in a statement issued this afternoon. "He was a friend and mentor to many at Merivale, always so generous in sharing his exceptional talent. We are very lucky to have been part of Jeremy's life for many years and we are all going to feel his loss enormously.
"Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are of course with Jane, his wife and partner, and their boys."
Jeremy Strode is survived by Jane Strode and his three children. The Strode family ask that instead of flowers, donations be made to R U O K?.