MasterChef food critic Charles Campion dies aged 69

MasterChef food critic Charles Campion dies aged 69 as Jay Rayner leads tributes to ‘a great and lovely man’

  • Daughter of Charles Campion confirmed his death on Twitter this afternoon 
  • Masterchef food critic died on December 23 at age of 69, cause not yet known 
  • Fellow judges led tributes to the much-loved man on Twitter after news of death 

Masterchef food critic Charles Campion has died at the age of 69, as Jay Rayner leads tributes to ‘a great and lovely man’. 

Tributes to Campion have been flooding social media this afternoon after his daughter Ashley confirmed the 69 year old died on December 23. 

She tweeted: ‘He was a brilliant father, friend and husband. Everyone who came into contact with him came away a little better for it. Love you Dad!’

Jay Rayner led tributes to the father of two this morning, writing: ‘Charles Campion was a great and lovely man, with a brilliantly droll sense of humour. And boy he knew his subject. 

Charles Campion (centre) died on December 23 at the age of 69, his daughter has confirmed. Pictured: Campion with fellow critics William Sitwell and Tracey MacLeod

The popular food critic’s daughter Ashley shared a picture of Campion with his family when confirming the news of his passing and described him as a ‘brilliant father, friend and husband’

‘I held my breath when he was at the Masterchef 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.’

Other fellow Masterchef judge Tracey MacLeod also to Twitter to share her sadness at the news of the Warwickshire-born man’s death: ‘Sad news about Charles Campion, the most knowledgeable, courtly and clear-eyed of colleagues around the Masterchef critics table. 

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

The cause of Campion’s death is yet to be confirmed. He also leaves behind his wife Sylvia.

Food journalist Dan Saladino, who worked with Campion during projects for the BBC, posted his tribute on Christmas Eve: ‘Rest in peace Charles Campion – a lover of good food (and food stories) and a great friend of BBC Food Programme. 

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

In an emotional post, Campion’s daughter said: ‘Everyone who came into contact with him came away a little better for it. Love you Dad!’

Fellow critics Tracey MacLeod Jay Rayner led tributes to Campion, with Rayner describing him as a ‘great and lovely man’ 

Campion wrote several cookbooks and a memoir titled Fifty Recipes to Stake Your Life On during his life and made a name for himself for his dislike of ‘pretentious’ food. 

He was also know for promoting small restaurants and businesses. 

Friend and co-judge William Sitwell also shared a moving tribute to Campion, in which he remembered him ‘constantly bemoaning the lack of chips or potatoes on a plate’ and  ‘his loathing of things like micro-herbs’.

Michelin chef Michel Roux Jr. said: ‘Very sad indeed, his knowledge was as wide as his smile, a true gentleman and an honour to have cooked for him.’ 

Fans of Campion’s work also took to social media to share their sadness at his passing. 

Fans of Campion also paid tribute to him on Twitter, as well as Michelin chef Michel Roux Jr.

One wrote: ‘So sad to hear of the passing of Charles Campion, a giant among men, and an incredible influence during my formative years. Will raise a glass to you tonight, lovely man.’

Another said: ‘RIP Charles Campion, the exemplar of an old-school, unstarry but knowledgable restaurant critic. 

‘A friend once ran into him in the loo and told me “I have been in the gents with Campion. He is very large and very good”.’ 

Campion worked in the advertising industry for 15 years in London before a change of career – moving into a country mansion in Buxton, Derbyshire, with his wife.

They transformed the property into a hotel and restaurant – in which Campion was the head chef – but the business eventually failed. 

He then went into food journalism, reviewing restaurants for various newspapers and magazines. 

William Sitwell’s emotional tribute to ‘lovely man’ Campion

Very sad to hear from Mark Hix 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.


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