Gary Rhodes

When most boys his age were out in the street kicking a football around, young Gary Rhodes preferred to spend his days experimenting in the kitchen, preparing family meals while his mum was at work. One look at his family's delighted faces after they tucked into the first major culinary venture - a full roast dinner he produced at the age of 13 was enough to convince him his future lay in the role of chef.

The spiky-haired culinary genius was born on April 20, 1960, in south London. His family moved to Kent where he grew up and attended a local catering college. It was there he met future wife Jennie, with whom he tied the knot in 1989. The couple have two children, Samuel and George.

Aware he'd need to travel to develop his culinary skills Gary headed for Amsterdam where his got his first job as a commis chef at the city's Hilton hotel. His career looked in doubt briefly, however, when a 1979 accident caused him to lose his sense of smell. Fortunately he made a full recovery.

The budding talent landed his first head chef job at the Castle Hotel in Somerset. It was there he developed the passion for British food which set the course of his career, and gained his first Michelin star, aged just 26.

A year later he made his first small screen appearance - a guest slot on BBC cookery programme Hot Chefs. TV bosses were so impressed he was given his own show, Rhodes around Britain, and has been a constant small screen presence ever since.

In 1997 Gary opened his first London restaurant, City Rhodes, which was followed 12 months later by Rhodes In The Square located in luxury apartment complex Dolphin Square. Both were awarded Michelin Stars. From that point on his empire grew swiftly to include brasseries in Edinburgh, Manchester and Crawley as well as further afield in Grenada, Dubai and aboard a luxury cruise ship.

Despite devoting increasing amounts of time to his different business ventures, which include numerous product endorsements, food magazine contributions and countless cook books, Gary says his number one passion is still cooking. "I will never let go of the stove," he says.

He has cooked on almost every continent, including special meals prepared for royalty and prime ministers, as well as on the QE2 and the Orient Express. In addition to his OBE, awarded in 2006, Gary has achieved many personal ambitions, including serving up food for Princess Diana, the Jordan Formula One team, and his beloved Manchester United football team.

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