13 Jun 2010

Restaurant critic Egon Ronay dies

9:29 am on 13 June 2010

Restaurant critic Egon Ronay has died in Britain at the age of 94, after a short illness.

Ronay, who was born in Hungary in 1915, wrote his first guidebook in 1956 after managing several restaurants and contributing to the Daily Telegraph.

He continued to publish the books for three decades, helping to usher in the era of restaurant reviews, the BBC reports.

Michelin-starred celebrity chef Raymond Blanc said Ronay was a visionary who had pushed up "the standard of British cuisine".

"There's no doubt that he had a huge, huge influence and he helped British chefs to believe in themselves."

Ronay was the son of a prominent restaurateur in Budapest whose businesses were destroyed during and after World War II. After escaping from communist Hungary in 1946 he arrived in London as a penniless refugee.

He opened his restaurant in 1952, the Marquee in Knightsbridge, serving classic French dishes that were almost unheard of in post-war Britain.

Ronay sold his restaurant in 1955 to concentrate on his writing, and Egon Ronay's Guide to Hotels and Restaurants arrived the following year.

Ronay produced the books, with the help of a team of inspectors, for 30 years - never accepting a free meal.

He sold the guidebooks to the AA in 1985, but regained the rights to the books in court in the late 90s after arguing that the company's actions were in danger of tarnishing his name.