Celebrity chef Darren Simpson has died.
Celebrity chef Darren Simpson has died. Supplied

Celebrity chef Darren Simpson dead after long illness

THE restaurant and food industry friends of celebrity chef Darren Simpson have used social media to pay tribute to the former TV foodie who has died after a long battle with alcohol addiction-related illness.

The father of two is believed to have suffered a heart attack on Thursday night after a recent attempt at rehabilitation in a clinic, then hospital near his Byron Bay home.

Simpson enjoyed a national food profile following regular appearances on Seven's Sunrise, Ten's Ready, Steady, Cook and Lifestyle FOOD channel's The Best where he competed against fellow chef, Ben O'Donoghue and cook, Anna Gare.

The Irish-born chef was named UK's Young Chef of the year at the age of 21, the youngest ever winner of the prestigious prize open to young talent under 25.

He trained in some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the world, including Le Gavrouche, the River Cafe, and Sir Terence Conran's Sartoria in Savile Row.

In 1999, he was headhunted to become the Head Chef of Aqua Luna Bar and Restaurant at Sydney's East Circular Quay, receiving rave reviews for his "dynamic" and "big-flavoured" menus.

He would open the award-winning La Sala (The Room), a modern Italian restaurant, in Woollahra in 2005.

His peer and friend Jason Roberts wrote of his loss on Facebook paying tribute to the #younggun.

"Devastated ...... RIP Darren Simpson !!! The world has lost another brilliant mind!!!! Sorry for those of you who maybe seeing or hearing this now ..."

Friend and journalist Shonagh Walker shared memories of her mate "Dazzler" writing: "I hope I wake up tomorrow and this is a dream" and "I know the last few weeks have been hell for you. You will never be forgotten. #love you xxxx"

Rick Stein's wife Sarah responded to Walker's post: "Lovely words Shonagh Walker. I am in such shock, loved Darren. Had such fun times with him and ... very generous xx"

Originally published as Celebrity chef Darren Simpson dies