Rick Stein's 'not going to last much longer' but is enjoying life
TV chef Rick Stein has said that he’s not going to ‘last that much longer’ - but added that he’s enjoying life as much as possible. The Padstow-based restaurateur spoke out in the wake of a life saving operation on his heart.
Speaking to The Times, Rick, aged 77, said he had been thinking about death ‘big time’. He had been suffering from symptoms of breathlessness for five or six years when he was told he would die without the operation.
He underwent the operation in 2022 at the Royal Brompton Hospital after his cardiologist read his echocardiogram and told Stein that his aorta was failing. Drugs could delay surgery, but only for a while.
Rick said: “And then, a bit over a year ago, he said, ‘You’re going to have to have the op.’ ” He spoke about his manic depressive father and how his second wife Sarah Burns, known as ‘Sas’ has looked after him.
He added: “But to be honest, having had the operation and recovered, the improvement in my health has left me tremendously optimistic. Even though at my age and with the normal realities of life I’m not going to last that much longer, I think as long as you’ve got your health and you’re optimistic generally and enjoying your life, you don’t tend to ponder too much about how little life you’ve got left.”
He told the Times his Cornish restaurant is in good health despite reporting a pre-tax loss of £347,000 in 2022, as opposed to a profit of £3.7 million the year before. He said: “I mean, that’s a ridiculous thing. I can’t remember why we were supposed to have made a loss, but we didn’t — it was only part of the business. We’re making profits but, crikey, it’s hard work at the moment.”
He said the price of fish has been a ‘big problem’ and fuel: “We got clobbered with gas prices. We had to commit [to a price] at the beginning of that year and we thought we’d got it right but we hadn’t. We’re not going to go bust, but it’s not a great time to have a business.”
“The problem with restaurants — unless you’re someone that’s been on TV or has Michelin stars — is how do you get young talented people to come and work for you? In the early days in my place, something like 25 per cent of the chefs were good. The rest were probably not going to end up being chefs and would do things like put sugar in your boiled potatoes, you know? It would drive you nuts.
“But it wasn’t really that I was vindictive or aggressive. I would always apologise when I lost it. It was quite funny. I always remember having a go at a chef called Andy and I caught him, just for a split second, about to smile, about to laugh.
“In my autobiography I got one of the waitresses to say what I was like — she’s still working for us, which must be a good sign. She said, ‘He used to get into a right old state with people asking for mixed salads. He just didn’t like mixed salads, the old-fashioned one with tomato and cucumber. And so we used to have to make one quietly round the corner where he couldn’t see.’ ”
An Evening with Rick Stein runs March 15-30, kicking off in Buxton, Derbyshire. For details, see rickstein.com/tour