Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Ellie Muir

BBC Saturday Kitchen chef and Polpo restaurateur Russell Norman dies suddenly aged 57

Can Nguyen/Shutterstock

Russell Norman, the pioneering restaurateur who was a guest chef on Saturday Kitchen, has died aged 57.

Norman was best known for starting the Polpo chain of Italian restaurants, as well as its spin-offs Spuntino and Polpetto. He was a well-known cookbook author and broadcaster who appeared on the BBC show Saturday Kitchen.

His business partner and close friend Richard Beatty, a co-founder of Polpo and Spuntino, shared the news of Norman’s death in a statement on Friday (24 November) to Restaurant Online.

"It is with the greatest sadness I announce the loss of my best friend Russell Norman,” Beatty wrote.

“After a short battle in hospital, he died surrounded by family and friends. Russell is survived by his wife and three children, and I ask that you respect the privacy of his family, friends and colleagues at this time."

In 2021, Norman opened the award-winning Trattoria Brutto, a traditional Florentine-style trattoria, in Farringdon, and released a new cookbook, BRUTTO: A Simple Florentine Cookbook, just last month.

His first book POLPO: A Venetian Cookbook (of Sorts) won the inaugural Waterstones Book of the Year prize in 2012. That same year, The Guardian hailed Norman the “new king of Soho dining” after he exploded on to the London restaurant space and pioneered the small plates concept in his restaurants.

In 2014, he presented the BBC2 series titled The Restaurant Man, in which he coached budding restauranters as they launch their own businesses.

In 2012, The Guardian hailed Norman the ‘new king of Soho dining’
— (Michael Bowles/Shutterstock)

Norman’s colleagues in the food and entertainment industries have been sharing tributes on social media.

Food critic Jay Rayner wrote: “So sorry to hear of the death, far too young, of Russell Norman. He was one of the most gifted of restaurateurs, a terrific writer and an awful lot of fun to be around. He very much lived life his own way. My thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Mark Lewis, chief executive of charity Hospitality Action, tweeted: “Such sad and shocking news about Russell Norman, RIP. I bumped into him enjoying a glass of wine outside @racine_kitchen only a week or two ago. I was proud to hand him a Catey in 2012. A huge talent, and a huge loss.”

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.