Stars of Strictly Come Dancing have paid tribute to former contestant Gary Rhodes following the news of his tragic death. Gary was partnered with former pro dancer Karen Hardy back in 2008, and on Wednesday evening, Zoe Ball halted spin-off show It Takes Two in order to pay her respects to the beloved chef. She said: "Now you may have heard the very sad news that Gary Rhodes passed away today. Gary was a member of the Strictly family back in 2008 when he danced with Karen Hardy. This evening, our love and thoughts go out to Gary's family and friends." Strictly judge Bruno Tonioli also shared on Twitter: "Can’t believe the news... #rip Gary Rhodes.... Life is just too short and precious...x"
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Remembering Gary Rhodes
Karen - who is currently working in China - took to her Karen Hardy Studios Twitter account after the news broke on Wednesday morning, which had been written by her team due to her lack of internet access. The message read: "With Karen being away in China, she has limited access to social media and has asked us to post on her behalf. 'I am truly speechless and lost for words but my heart and thoughts go out to his beautiful family at this time. RIP." Karen's message was accompanied by a picture of the pair dancing together on the BBC One dance show.
Zoe Ball paid tribute to Gary Rhodes on Wednesday
Gary's tragic death – which was attributed to "natural causes" according to a statement released by Dubai Police – was announced by his family. The statement read: "The Rhodes family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of beloved husband, father and brother, Gary Rhodes OBE. Gary passed away last evening, Tuesday 26th November 2019, at the age of 59, with his beloved wife Jennie by his side. The family would like to thank everyone for their support and ask for privacy during this time." At the time of Gary's death, he was working in a hotel in Dubai. The hotel also gave a statement following his passing. "The team at Grosvenor Hotel Dubai and Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa are devastated to hear of the tragic passing of Chef Gary Rhodes OBE."
It continued: "Not only has the industry lost a true culinary legend, we have also lost an inspirational human being and a very dear friend. No words can express our sadness at Gary's death or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with him. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Rhodes family." Gary moved to Dubai in 2011, and was best known for his work on shows including MasterChef and Hell's Kitchen.
Gary's former Strictly partner Karen Hardy paid tribute on Wednesday
Many famous faces have since paid their respects since Gary's death. Jamie Oliver shared a photo of Gary on his Instagram page, and wrote: "Sadly Chef Gary Rhodes OBE passed away. My heart felt sympathies to his wife , kids, friends and family, sending love and thoughts ..... Gary was a fantastic chef and incredible ambassador for British cooking, he was a massive inspiration to me as a young chef. He reimagined modern British cuisine with elegance and fun. rest in peace Chef."
Gordon Ramsay shared on Twitter: "We lost a fantastic chef today in Gary Rhodes. He was a chef who put British Cuisine on the map. Sending all the love and prayers to your wife and kids. You'll be missed Gx." James Martin, meanwhile, posted a throwback snap of Gary on Instagram, and posted: "Hugely influential in my life and the life of the British food scene. Gent and genius... RIP Gary, I can't believe you're gone."
Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.