Paul Kitching: Edinburgh chef behind one of Capital's best restaurants 21212 dies suddenly
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Moving tributes have been paid to a trailblazing Edinburgh chef described as a “true inspiration”. Paul Kitching, who ran the five star 21212 restaurant with his partner Katie O’Brien, died suddenly this week aged 61.
Sharing the news on social media on Thursday (December 15), Katie wrote: “I’m sorry to say the love of my life has gone.” There was an outpouring of condolences and memories of Paul in the comments. One person wrote: "Paul was such an incredible person – so gifted, insanely creative but also had time to talk to everyone, and to listen. Was an honour to know and work for him.”
“I will never forget my time working at Juniper, he was an amazing, wild, funny, inspirational man,” said another, and another social media user wrote: “He was the most inspiring person I have ever met, genius!”
Reacting to the loss, Chef Dean Banks – of the Pompadour in Princes Street Waldorf Astoria – wrote a moving tribute to Paul on Instagram. It said: “A true inspiration to thousands of chefs who passed through his doors and to many more. Paul taught me there are no rules in cooking. Lemon tart with Chicken, STP with venison are a few that I mention alot. Paul will live on through his cooking and teaching.
“Paul was my last Head chef before I went out on my own and was truly part of creating me and my style. My condolences to all who loved him and to all who look up to him as one of the greats. He will be missed dearly.”
Paul and Katie opened 21212 in Edinburgh’s Royal Terrace in 2009. Since, the restaurant has received a number of awards – including best new restaurant in the UK, a Michelin star between 2009 and 2019, four AA rosettes and was named Catering in Scotland's Restaurant of the Year. Paul was also awarded the Prince Philip medal for services to the catering industry.
Before moving to Edinburgh, the couple ran Juniper in Greater Manchester. The restaurant became the area’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, ranked in the top 20 restaurants in The Good Food Guide and was England’s Restaurant of the Year.
Gordon Ramsay previously described Paul as “pure talent, driven by a great creative energy; a powerhouse of the north”, while food critic Jay Rayner said: “Paul Kitching is on more than nodding terms with genius.”