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MasterChef food critic Charles Campion dies as colleagues pay tribute


Charles Campion died on December 23 (Picture: BBC)

MasterChef stars have paid tribute following the death of food critic Charles Campion.

The food journalist wrote columns, articles and restaurant reviews for The Times, The Independent and the Evening Standard during his career as a critic, after leaving his job in advertising.

Campion became well known to MasterChef viewers as a regular critic on the amateur, professional and celebrity editions. 

The writer was beloved for his dislike of pretentious food and terms, preferring traditional food made well.

The news of his death was broken on social media on Christmas by food journalist Dan Saladino, who tweeted: ‘Rest in peace Charles Campion – a lover of good food (and food stories) and a great friend of @BBCFoodProg.

‘I will never forget our adventures in the land of boudin noir and the programmes we made together. Farewell friend.’

Tracey McLeod, who appeared on MasterChef alongside Campion, later tweeted: ‘Sad news about Charles Campion, the most knowledgeable, courtly and clear-eyed of colleagues around  the @MasterChefUK critics table. 

‘He lived for his family & talked about them often during breaks in filming, when he wasn’t grumbling about dessert parsley. We will miss you CC.’

Critic and writer Jay Rayner added: ‘Charles Campion was a great and lovely man, with a brilliantly droll sense of humour. And boy he knew his subject. 

‘I held my breath when he was at the @MasterChefUK table to find out whether I’d screwed up a point of detail and he was gently going to put me right. A great loss.’

William Sitwell, who often appeared on MasterChef with Charles, posted a moving tribute on Instagram.

He wrote: ‘Very sad to hear from @markehix of the death of Charles Campion. He was a lovely man who I got to know well over the years, particularly while filming countless episodes of MasterChef. For which I’ll mainly remember him constantly bemoaning the lack of chips or potatoes on a plate, his loathing of things like micro-herbs; he’d pick up a delicate, miniscule head of baby coriander and study it with understandable bemusement, and his genuine, heartfelt and absolute adoration of sitting down. We did sometimes wonder when he lowered himself gently down into a sofa in the green room and then exerted a little pleasurable moan, whether we’d manage to get him up back again in time for filming.

‘Of all the critics I have ever known he was surely the definitive, professional eater. I remember him leaving the set one day, bound for Australia where he would, for five days, diligently, seriously and with great care, attention and pleasure eat; breakfast, lunch, tea, nibbles, dinner and doubtless a few more meals in between. I was sat with him at the five year anniversary party of Club Gascon in Smithfield market. A waiter brought him the menu. He looked carefully at it and then said, ‘Yes, I’ll have that please.’ The entire menu.

‘But it is not how he ate or the amount he ate that is his legacy. To me it’s the excitement he had in conveying news of brilliant places he discovered and knew of; little restaurants, run with passion by people who really knew what they were doing; be it a family-run curry house by a main road in Droitwich or an established London place that he knew was reliably fabulous. His knowledge was immense, as was his kindness and interest in others, which almost surpassed his love of rugby.

‘Charles, I’ll see you in that little place in the sky where you’ll be happy in the corner; a large napkin around your neck, an enviable appetite, unflappable as you set about devouring a gargantuan feast. How lucky were those that knew and fed you.’

Charles appeared on MasterChef through the years (Picture: BBC)

Restaurateur Mark Hix shared on Instagram that Campion had died on December 23, and said that he was loved by everybody in the industry.

The details of his death have not yet been made public.

Campion worked in advertising for 15 years before deciding to renovate an English countryside estate with his wife Sylvia, transforming it into a hotel and restaurant.

He then moved into the world of food writing, and went on to write seven editions of the Rough Guide to London restaurants.

Campion also wrote three cookery books with chef Theodore Kyriakou and a barbecue recipe book, as well as a culinary memoir called Fifty Recipes To Stake Your Life On.

He co-presented the SkyTV series The Greatest Dishes of the World and produced work for BBC Radio.

Campion is survived by his wife and two children Geoffrey and Ashley.

Metro.co.uk has contacted a rep for MasterChef for comment.


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