CELEB chef Gary Rhodes collapsed at home from a fatal head injury after dinner with his wife and telling a pal that "life couldn't be better".
The spiky-haired chef, who was best know for shows such as Rhodes Around Britain, Masterchef and Hell's Kitchen, suffered a subdural hematoma, usually associated with a brain injury, his family said.
He was surrounded by family when he died, aged 59, in Dubai on Tuesday night.
The dad-of-two, who moved to the UAE in 2007, was working on the day he died and his death is said to have come as a complete shock.
His family said in a statement: "In order to end painful speculation surrounding the sudden passing of our beloved Gary Rhodes OBE, the Rhodes family can confirm that after a successful day shooting with Rock Oyster Media for ITV here in Dubai, Gary returned home in a very happy mood for a peaceful evening with his wife Jennie.
"After dinner, Gary unfortunately collapsed in their residence and was rushed to hospital but unfortunately passed away due to subdural hematoma.
"At this time, there are no other details and the family would again request privacy around this very tragic loss and again, thank friends and family for their ongoing support at this time."
There was speculation among catering workers in Dubai, where he was staying at the Grosvenor House Hotel, that he may have slipped in the shower and banged his head.
Fellow chef Vineet Bhatia, who was filming with Gary Rhodes last week in Dubai, said Rhodes was fit and healthy and his last words to him were "life couldn't be better".
Mr Bhatia, who owns restaurants in London's Chelsea and Dubai, told the Daily Mail: "I have been told by friends in Dubai that he slipped and banged his head and was then taken to hospital.
"I wish I could have been there for him. He was such a lovely man. So friendly and enjoying his life."
He added: "I remember him telling me last week 'life couldn't be better'. He was very fit and healthy and this is such a great shock.
"He was very happy and enjoying the successes of his business and looking forward to expanding. We have lost a great man a great chef."
Pal and fellow chef Jamie Oliver said Rhodes died after a "tragic fall" before deleting the online post.
He added: "My heartfelt 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."
A production company that was working with the celeb chef on a new TV series said he was suddenly taken ill during a break in filming.
Rock Oyster Media and Goldfinch TV said: "Gary was in the middle of filming a wonderful new series with Rock Oyster Media for ITV from his base in Dubai.
"Gary was taken ill very suddenly at home during a break in filming and died a short time afterwards.
"Production was obviously halted as soon as Gary was taken ill and members of the Rock Oyster Team remain in Dubai to support the family as best they can."
According to a statement released by Dubai Police, the famous chef “died of natural causes”.
His brother Chris said he has "lost a best friend" in a heartbreaking tribute to the star.
The chef's devastated family said: "The Rhodes family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of beloved husband, father and brother, Gary Rhodes OBE.
"Gary passed away last evening 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."
Jaideep Bhatia, of the Grosvenor House Dubai where Rhodes ran a restaurant, said he was working "until the day he died".
She added: "He arrived in Dubai in 2007 and had two restaurants, Rhodes 2010 at Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa, and Rhodes W1 at the Grosvenor.
"He was working until the day he died. He was working until Tuesday."
Rhodes was a household name in the early 2000s and starred in shows such as MasterChef, Hell's Kitchen and also fronted his own cooking shows.
He was known for his love of British cuisine and earned a record five Michelin Stars throughout his career. He was awarded an OBE in 2006.
His career was almost ended when he was struck by a van in Amsterdam aged 19.
Waking from a coma, he realised that he had lost his sense of smell.
He needed six months to recover after undergoing eight hours of brain surgery.
In the Daily Mail in 2002, the chef said doctors warned him to be "very careful", which led him to give up playing football over fears he could be injured again.
He said: "I loved playing football at school... but to me it's not worth the risk, so I don't play at all. I probably went back too early because I wasn't used to the long hours, and for the first three months I got tired very quickly."
In 2008 he appeared on Strictly Come Dancing but was the third celebrity to be voted off after he was slated by the judges for having footwork that was "flat as a pancake".
He left the UK in around 2010 to set up a new life in Dubai and owned a steakhouse restaurant called Rhodes Twenty10.
He inspired a generation of British cooks and wrote more than 18 cookery books throughout his career.
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Tributes yesterday flooded in for the cook - dubbed "The Chef's Chef" by his peers.
Gordon Ramsay tweeted: "We lost a fantastic chef today in Gary Rhodes." He added: "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."
Prue Leith, star of The Great British Bake Off, said: "Gary was the first rock star of cooking, making it cool for boys to cook." She added: "Spiky haircut, tight trousers, full of energy. And a great chef."