John King sadly passed away on 22nd November 2016, after a brave and dignified fight against a glioblastoma brain tumour.
John’s tribute in The Caterer Magazine described him as:
“One of the hospitality’s industry’s most highly respected chefs. During his 40 years in the kitchen - including stints at the Dorchester, the Connaught, the Ritz Club, Le Caprice, Les Ambassadeurs, Crockford’s and the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Manila – he was renowned for inspiring and teaching a legion of younger chefs.
John won many accolades during his career including the gold medal for Best Regional Team in the World for the Ritz Club at the 1988 Culinary Olympics. He was an active member of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, chairing the selection committee and golf society.
Until recently, he took up a post as a part-time lecturer at Westminster College, where he started his career, as well as working two days a week as chief caviar packer at King's Fine Food alongside his wife Laura, owner of the fine food specialist supplier.
Laura King told The Caterer: “Everyone loved John. Everywhere we went people knew him, and just last year at Westminster Kingsway we managed to get a picture of him with many of the students he had taught.”
Gary Hunter, Vice Principal for Hospitality and Adult Learning at Westminster Kingsway College, said: “John started his career at Westminster Technical College as a student on our Professional Chef Diploma and he came full circle after an illustrious career coming back to us two years ago to teach on the very same programme. He was a remarkable chef and one of life’s true gentlemen. He was everything a professional chef should aspire to. ”
John was first diagnosed in May 2015 and operated on at Atkinson Morley Hospital in June of that year. Fairing very well the day after his operation, he could be found in Marks & Spencer buying a sandwich! And on his first day home after surgery he took great pleasure in cooking Harry and 12 of his friends a huge breakfast. John remained fit until March 2016 when he had a seizure and was diagnosed with a second tumour in another part of the brain. He then had another operation under neurosurgeon Tim Jones.
During John’s treatment, Laura and John discovered the gardens for patients outside McKissock Ward at Atkinson Morley. The gardens, commissioned by the famous brain surgeon Henry Marsh to help with patient recovery, were looking in need of some TLC. With the agreement of the hospital, Laura and John adopted the garden and with a team of friends started to maintain it.
Creating a legacy
Laura and John both agreed that they should start a charity to maintain and improve the McKissock Ward garden. In addition to this, they were passionate about supporting the amazing work of St George’s Hospital Trust in the treatment of brain tumours while under constant financial pressures of the NHS.
And so the John King Brain Tumour Foundation was conceived and a group of enthusiastic trustees are now on board. The application for charitable status is in progress but with the money already raised after John’s funeral, and with the amazing support of Tony Woods of Garden Club London, the garden is being upgraded and maintained as a wonderful haven for patients.
Laura is also passionate about supporting the incredible work of Tim Jones, Neurosurgeon, St George’s Hospital Trust. The charity’s first major project is to raise money for a special microscope, not available through NHS funding. This will allow more of a brain tumour to be removed during surgery prolonging a patient's life.
Laura says “Ultimately we want to support research into this fatal cancer which receives only 1% of all cancer research funding and has a life expectancy of just 15 months. Sadly many more young people are being diagnosed with malignant brain tumours. All monies raised will be spent wisely and managed by our board of trustees. There will be no administration fees so every penny really will count. Apart from John's four beautiful children, this will be his lasting legacy.”
Donations (one-off or monthly) to the John King Brain Tumour Foundation can be made here: