The celebrity chef died with his wife of 30 years Jennie, also 59, by his side at their home in Dubai on Tuesday evening. Picture: AP

London - The culinary world was left stunned on Wednesday by the sudden death of Gary Rhodes at the age of 59.

The celebrity chef died with his wife of 30 years Jennie, also 59, by his side at their home in Dubai on Tuesday evening.

Rhodes was taken ill "very suddenly" there during a break in filming for a new ITV show and died "a short time afterwards", according to the production company he was working with.

Dubai police sources said the father of two – who championed British cuisine and appeared on TV shows including 'MasterChef', 'Strictly Come Dancing' and his own 'Rhodes Around Britain' series – died of natural causes.

Jamie Oliver said on Instagram that Rhodes had "passed away after a tragic fall", but later deleted the post, and wrote a tribute without the claim. The cause of death had not been made public. But one theory is it could be related to a blood clot on the brain he suffered in an accident when he was 19.

Rhodes was warned by doctors of the risks of another head injury after he was hit by a van while working at the Hilton in Amsterdam in 1979. He needed eight hours of brain surgery.

The chef said in 2002 that doctors had warned him to be "very careful", which led him to give up playing football. He said: "I loved playing football at school...but to me it’s not worth the risk, so I don’t play at all."

Oliver hailed Rhodes – who was awarded his first Michelin star when he was 26 – as "an incredible ambassador for British cooking". 

Bake Off judge Prue Leith said: "Gary was the first rock star of cooking." 

Gordon Ramsay said: "He was a chef who put British cuisine on the map." James Martin hailed him as a "gent and genius", while Ainsley Harriott said he was "the first to make cookery the new rock and roll". 

Daily Mail