Goodbye Gastronaut
September 15, 2009 4:25 AM   Subscribe

Keith Floyd, the original Celebrity chef and the most flamboyant of gastronauts, has passed away from a heart attack at the age of 65. Floyd was known not just for enjoying a drink while he cooked, but also for making TV real.

Slow cooked beef in red wine
How to cook mussels
Pheasant in Mead sauce
Toulouse Cassolet
Beef with Oysters and Guinness
Fish stew

Keith Meets Keith, which aired last night, for those who have access to Channel 4's 4oD (strong language).

Keith's blog also has instructions on how to roast a turkey.
posted by Elmore (41 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
A sad day. I grew up watching his programmes and they were a huge inspiration to me - absolutely an integral part of my love of cookery. And red wine.

He'll be sorely missed, but he does leave a great legacy. His books are well worth picking up on the second hand market.

A true cooking legend.
posted by StuMiller at 4:30 AM on September 15, 2009

posted by bjrn at 4:36 AM on September 15, 2009

posted by sien at 4:37 AM on September 15, 2009

Aw crap... what StuMiller said. Floyd Cooks Italy, summer of 1994 - the series that changed me forever.

posted by sagwalla at 4:43 AM on September 15, 2009

| |
posted by motty at 4:47 AM on September 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


The Strangler's 'Waltz In Black'
- theme for most of his shows
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:49 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

A really sad day. A true legend, who wrote the book on tv cooking shows. Everything that has come since has been a pale imitation of Floyd's adventures.

posted by fire&wings at 4:50 AM on September 15, 2009

After I read "original Celebrity chef," I confess that I confused him with Graham Kerr (The Galloping Gourmet) because that's who popped into my mind and I didn't remember his name, just his cooking show. A sad loss, anyway.
posted by empyrean at 4:53 AM on September 15, 2009

posted by artaxerxes at 4:54 AM on September 15, 2009

Sorry it's a daily mail link, but this article has Floyd himself explaining just how ramshackle his journey into tv was. Oustanding fun.
posted by theyexpectresults at 4:55 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I didn't warm to him at first, but it was a stroke of genius to send him to France for that breakthrough TV series, calculated as it may have been. For an English cook to march into French kitchens and announce he was going to show how it was done was tantamount to a declaration of war. In that context of scorn and hostility, Floyd's qualities came to the fore and his invincible self-confidence showed to advantage as a kind of hardihood and persistent energy that really commanded admiration (and sympathetic amusement).

I don't think one can exactly wish he had drunk less - the resolute engagement with alcohol was typical of the personality. It's a shame his life didn't come together better and last much longer, but he has left behind an enviably splendid impression on many minds and kitchens.
posted by Phanx at 5:03 AM on September 15, 2009

One of the things I always loved about Floyd is that he was unafraid of referring to the artifice of making a TV show. Whether it would be admitting that the first attempt at filming a recipe had gone wrong, talking directly to the cameraman ("Quick spin around the ingredients please, Clive."), commenting on the editing ("now this is going to take about a hour to cook, so the director's sent Clive off to get some pretties" - cue montage of French countryside, with a voice over of Floyd pontificating on some aspect of French cuisine) or generally insulting the crew (particularly the director).

David Pritchard was usually that director and producer. He discovered Floyd in the televisual sense and they had something of a fractious relationship.

RIP Keith. I shall cook something à la Floyd* in your memory. With "Waltzinblack" on the stereo.

*with a large glass of red wine in one hand and a large frying pan in the other.
posted by Electric Dragon at 5:06 AM on September 15, 2009 [3 favorites]

The anti-Delia. Will be missed.
posted by runincircles at 5:16 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I never felt the same about Floyd after reading Lynn Barber's profile of him, which painted a horribly convincing picture of a man who covered up his essential loneliness by behaving like a shit. But as a television personality (another way of dealing with the loneliness, I guess) he had a natural talent. Best to remember the programmes, and not think too much about the life off-camera.
posted by verstegan at 5:17 AM on September 15, 2009 [3 favorites]

Floyd is a legend, I much enjoyed his inebriate shows. He's been so long off the radar I'd forgotten he was so original. This obit brings it all back.
posted by tellurian at 5:18 AM on September 15, 2009

posted by RokkitNite at 5:21 AM on September 15, 2009

I happened across a repeat of one of his shows a few years back, while idely surfing TV with a Basque friend. "This guy is great" I explained - "he'll be pissed up by then end of this, and he's doubtless going to have copious booze involved."

What does Keith cook up? Porridge. She laughed at me as I pleaded for her to hang in there, somehow Keith would come through with something - anything. Oats, check. Water, check. Salt, check. Copious boiling, check. Keith espoused the virtues of a plain, simple Scottish porridge, my friend still unimpressed by my undelivered promises.

And then he came through - just as he served it, out from under his jacked appeared a whisky bottle, and a final salting of whisky sealed the cookery.

Thanks for not letting me down, Keith.
posted by davemee at 5:44 AM on September 15, 2009

My Floyd anecdotes:

1) He was in the army with someone I know. Apparently left shortly after the inevitable prank welcoming new subalterns to the regiment. In his case, it was being "stapled" to the mess lawn with croquet hoops.

2) When he did his first series on Thailand, bookings shot up to the country. Shortly thereafter, there was a surge in thai cuisine - both ready meals and restaurants - in the UK. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say he made a big impact on British eating habits.

3) Back in the mid nineties, some friends would get together to cook Floyd's recipe for boeuf bourgignon. The central ingredient, once you had marinated the meat for 24 hours in red wine (bien sur) was a calf's foot. If you happened to get too small a calf's foot the sauce never thickened quite enough. Get too large a calf's foot and you'd end up sticking your lips together as you ate. We liked the recipe enough to cook it several times and perfect it, though. Delicious.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:45 AM on September 15, 2009

Keith Floyd was great. Vintners around the world will now weep bitterly with the realisation that they'll never afford that second holiday now.
posted by ob at 6:03 AM on September 15, 2009

I put my dot up above, but I've not been able to get the impact of Floyd out of my mind. I posted the following memory to my blog this afternoon:

RIP Keith Floyd

I haven't watched much television since I gave it up in 1997, but the news of the death of television chef Keith Floyd brings me great sadness.

In the summer of 1994, I lived in Antwerp, where we were able to get BBC programmes - I can't remember if it was World Service or just regular BBC on cable or whatever. But we got Floyd's series Floyd on Italy, which featured him in characteristic style, drinking and cooking his way across Italy. He would be driving along, then stop and set up in a field somewhere and do some cooking over a gas stove. Or he would blag his way into someone's posh kitchen and do a proper cook-up, always with a glass or three of wine. The programmes were always too short. I could have watched for hours.

I had been a world traveller for three years at that point - a journey that had taken me everywhere and opened my mind to food, if not my heart to its preparation. And shortly after that, I would settle back in the US and buy my first proper "home". Watching Floyd that summer set in motion a number of threads that are still present in my life today - my love of cooking, taste for wine (and beer), a passion for travel and a deepening of my cultural awareness of Italy, where I have roots.

Floyd's full-on embrace of the joie de vivre was a life lesson for me. If you know Floyd, this might sound like a bad thing, but it has brought much joy in the experiences of living and of buying, preparing and sharing food. After settling back in the States, I dusted off my childhood memories of cooking with my Italian-American grandfather, who had died too young more than a decade before. I got closer to my kitchen and embraced the weekly shop at the local Italian supermarket with gusto. I got to know the butchers and the old time deli hands. I bought a pasta maker and a ravioli press. I took all of this on board and went from being a kid who would whip up a box of Kraft mac-n-cheese as a quick meal to a man who would spend time pulling together a feast of homemade raviolis the way Grandpa showed us. I turned my back on most prepared food in favour of making things myself. And I've never turned back.

Having packed in the telly when I moved to England, I am relatively free of the influence of the television chefs who have come since, but I'll never forget the changes I took on board the summer of 1994. Keith Floyd was a small but fundamental part of that. He was a food hero to me and I'll be drinking a glass of red wine in his memory tonight.
posted by sagwalla at 6:30 AM on September 15, 2009 [3 favorites]

A fantastic cook with a wonderful sense of humor.

posted by elmono at 6:59 AM on September 15, 2009


(it got full)
posted by Artw at 7:21 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by elsietheeel at 7:24 AM on September 15, 2009

Floyd did not get the exposure on American television that he so richly deserved. My wife and I were always tickled when a Floyd series would pop up on a local PBS station now and again. Meanwhile, talentless hacks like Rachael Ray abound, callously ruining food and cooking shows at the same time.

It's wine with dinner tonight at our house to remember Keith Floyd.
posted by briank at 7:37 AM on September 15, 2009


(I think that David Pritchard - producer for both Keith Floyd and more recently Rick Stein deserves some great credit as the power behind the throne here however). He is one of those people, I think, who goes to massive efforts in order to make his work look artless.
posted by rongorongo at 8:20 AM on September 15, 2009


Whenever I use wine in cooking, I always do a Keith Floyd imitation, with a glass of wine in one hand and a spoon in the other. "Now, while this thing is simmering away, let's taste some of that wine. Mmm, lovely."
posted by daniel_charms at 8:25 AM on September 15, 2009

Could someone please add wine to the tags?
posted by daniel_charms at 8:29 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't know about anyone else, but I will be uncorking a cheeky little Beaujolais this evening, putting perhaps a dash in my dinner, and the rest in my glass. It's what he would have wanted.
posted by metaxa at 8:37 AM on September 15, 2009

Could someone please add wine to the tags?


While I'm not a big fan of Keith Allen, the Channel 4 show is worth watching. I just happened to come across it last night and was delighted to see there was something on about Floyd. It was really sad towards the end and it almost seemed he had manipulated the situation so that the cameras would be there when he met his daughter for the first time in ten years. I hadn't known anything about his personal life, and it was strange and sad to briefly see this other person. It stuck with me and I was thinking about it this morning, then I read the news that he had passed away, and it really was quite a blow. It's sad that he's gone, no matter what he was one of a kind.
posted by Elmore at 8:45 AM on September 15, 2009

Thanks for this. Never heard of him before, even though I grew up watching Julia and the Galloping Gourmet. That mussel link reminds me of what I used to like about television. The "Take the mussel!" chyron was hilarious, and would never happen anywhere outside of public access (or youtube) today.
posted by turducken at 9:00 AM on September 15, 2009

Aww.. poop. Grew up watching Floyd every now and then, I remember not understanding what my parents were laughing at as he took copious drinks of wine and aquavit. Would've loved to see him and Gordon Ramsey in a kitchen together:

- "What is this? You donkey, it's crap!"

- "Shutup Gordon, have some wine."
posted by pyrex at 10:05 AM on September 15, 2009

He actually mentioned Ramsey in the documentary on C4. He wasn't disrespectful of him, just said that he was obsessed with being on television. There are some clips of him and Marco Pierre White on YT that I haven't got around to watching yet, but he had high praise for him (which surprised me a little).
posted by Elmore at 10:14 AM on September 15, 2009

posted by keijo at 10:27 AM on September 15, 2009

The only one I have a clear memory of is him cooking something French and regional while a regional French woman stood over his shoulder berating him for doing it wrong. She cooked the same thing, he translated her directions and everyone agreed hers was better.

Always loved that.

IIRC, Gary Rhodes got his break on tv on a Floyd programme by being a gobby shite that Floyd couldn't persuade to shut up.
posted by vbfg at 11:09 AM on September 15, 2009

vbfg, the first yt link is the end of that very scene, and was one of the memories I had of the TV show. Unfortunately I couldn't find the beginning where she cooks it and he then follows her recipe.
posted by Elmore at 12:54 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I saw his France show on PBS in the mid 90s. Always came on at the oddest hours, but I loved it. Very charming.
posted by vronsky at 1:01 PM on September 15, 2009

So it is, thanks Elmore. I love the look of exasperation in his face when she's talking. Says a lot about the guy that he not only carried on with the filming of that with good humour but also allowed it to be broadcast as many times as it has.
posted by vbfg at 1:57 PM on September 15, 2009

A fine TV chef, but not, I think, the most flamboyant.
posted by rodgerd at 5:04 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Another you tube link, with Floyd talking about the new brand of TV chefs.
posted by sien at 6:06 PM on September 15, 2009

Pretty much every 1980s male sketch comedian had a "Floyd On The Piss" / "Floyd On The Floor" skit in his arsenal. I think that says it all. He was certainly a huge influence on today's "chef on tour" programmes; I don't know if Bourdain ever saw Floyd on PBS, but No Reservations is of that lineage.

I made his apple chutney recipe today -- which I was planning to do anyway -- and when it's ready, I'll open a nice bottle of Côtes du Rhone to go with it. RIP.

rodgerd: now that brought back memories of the mid-80s in Britain. With a note of sadness, too.
posted by holgate at 8:55 PM on September 15, 2009

Aaaargh! Long time Floyd fan here, I just found out what happened!! Always loved the man for his true love of food (and people). This man had such a big heart. 2nding the note of sadness remembering the British mid-80s. Does anyone have that link where Floyd, drunk as a skunk, sets that fishing boat on fire while cooking? O dear. Must. have. something. to. drink. now....
posted by ouke at 11:21 AM on October 7, 2009

« Older America Responds to Kanye West   |   Rediscover Your Place in the Galaxy Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments