Budapest-born Egon Ronay, who emigrated to Britain after Hungary’s communist regime confiscated his family’s restaurant business and went on to become the UK’s most celebrated restaurant critic, died on Saturday at the age of 94. I had known of Ronay before his death, but I had no idea how profound his impact was on British culinary life. Just consider the following quote by noted chef/restaurateur Marco Pierre White in the obituary of Ronay the Guardian published yesterday:
It’s hard to express in words what he actually did. He, without doubt, was the most important individual in the restaurant world. He did more for gastronomy in Britain than any institution or individual. He made us all dream, he made us all want stars, he made us all work harder and created excitement – he was an extraordinary individual. Today is a very sad day for the hotel and restaurant world.
Given that Ronay lived such a long, productive and no doubt exciting life, I’m not sure I agree with Marco Pierre White that the day of his passing should be seen as sad. Far sadder, at least viewed from Hungary, is the day in 1946 when he left Budapest. R.I.P.