Acclaimed chef Bruce Robertson passed away suddenly on the morning of Monday 4 November 2014 in hospital, after being diagnosed with leukaemia just the previous Thursday. The chef, who recently launched a new venture, The Flagship, at his home in Simonstown, previously ran the Boathouse, and perhaps most famously, The Showroom, which achieved Eat Out Top 10 status in 2006 and 2007.
Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly paid tribute to the talented chef and man.
“He was a funny, wacky and kind chef, who inspired and delighted us all in his unique way. Eight years ago Bruce was so instrumental in helping me with the first-ever Eat Out awards that I worked on. We hosted the event at his restaurant, The Showroom. He moved the earth for us that night, with true Bruce enthusiasm. It seems strange, with only a few weeks to go before we celebrate this year’s awards, that Bruce is no longer with us. His vibrant, beautiful personality and generous soul will always stay with me.”
Eat Out also received tributes from several industry leaders.
“Why is it that we really only measure someone’s input or impact after they have left us? What is it about us that we never allow ourselves to celebrate the mavericks, outlaws and free thinkers – the real leaders – while they are among us? Bruce Robertson was all of these things. The dictionary defines genius as someone who possesses a rare natural ability or skill – Bruce was such a man and he had it in spades. His genius sometimes bordered on folly, but he had the sheer force of will and charismatic personally to carry it off. He made over-the-top seem like it wasn’t enough. We are weakened by the realisation that we may not have given him all the credit that he was due, but we are strengthened by having known him. R.I.P Big Man.” – Pete Goffe-Wood, MasterChef SA judge
“What a sad day indeed. I feel numbed by the bizarre notion that this is it. No more Bruce moments. Gosh, he was funny. He was also incredibly unique, really doing his own thing and following his own beliefs. I have always admired him for his almost exhausting levels of energy, and loved him for his originality. That Bruce spirit. He was a very caring, genuine and dear friend. And I will really miss the way he could make me laugh, from the bottom of my belly. Because, gosh, he really was one of a kind.” – Margot Janse, The Tasting Room
“We have lost a special friend, chef and loving father to his beautiful daughter. His love and passion for cooking, living and loving of life was amazing ! We will miss you so much, dearest Bruce!” – Sue Baker of Wild Peacock Food Emporium
On Twitter, tributes from the industry poured in for the chef.
Devastated to hear of the passing of Chef Bruce Robertson. Sending condolences to his family & friends from the Bistro1682 team.
— Bistro Sixteen82 (@bistro1682) November 3, 2014
George Cohen and the entire Saxon team send sincere condolences to the family and friends of Bruce Robertson on news of his tragic passing.
— The Saxon Hotel (@TheSaxonHotel) November 3, 2014
Bruce! You will be missed my friend. RIP #LargerThanLife
— David Higgs (@David_Higgs) November 3, 2014
So sorry to hear the devastating news of Bruce Robertson. We will all miss your energy and good nature. Luke. Sandalene and team.
— The Test Kitchen (@TestKitchenCT) November 3, 2014
Our condolences go out to Chef Bruce Robertson’s family and friends. Such a sad loss, way too soon. RIP from all of us at @OvertureRestrnt
— Bertus Basson (@BassonBertus) November 3, 2014
Very saddened to hear about Bruce Robertson’s passing. His passion will not be forgotten. Rest in peace.
— Chef Reuben Riffel (@ReubenRiffel) November 3, 2014
What will this industry b without that naughty grin and witty comment… The world is going to be a lot duller with your departure Bruce!RIP
— Jackie Cameron (@jackie_cameron) November 3, 2014
So sad to hear of the passing of Chef Bruce Robertson 🙁 It’s a bleak blue Monday. 🙁 RIP.
— Elise Ruddle (@TasteSenseSA) November 3, 2014
The SA food will be an emptier place without our talented maverick chef, Bruce Robertson #RIPbruce
— justine drake (@justine_drake) November 3, 2014