Chef Russell Norman

Russell Norman’s cause of death confirmed: Saturday Kitchen chef took his own life after argument with girlfriend

Russell died in November

The cause of death of Russell Norman – award-winning restauranteur and TV star – has been confirmed.

The Saturday Kitchen star, 57, died on November 23 weeks after the launch of his fourth cookbook, Brutto.

Today (February 10), an inquest confirmed that the chef died by suicide after a drunken argument with his girlfriend, Dr Genevieve Verdigel.

Russell Norman at Skate at Somerset House
Russell Norman took his own life after an argument with his girlfriend (Credit: Splash News)

Russell Norman cause of death: ‘I was trying to do CPR’

The inquest at Oakwood House in Maidstone heard he had twice the amount of alcohol in his system than the legal drink-drive limit. A conclusion of suicide by hanging was recorded.

The chef had gone into the garden of his home in Pluckley, Kent, after arguing with his art historian girlfriend. She tragically found him lying unconscious and tried to save him. In a statement read by Coroner Katrina Hepburn, Dr Verdigel said: “I ran back inside to call 999. I was trying to do CPR. I was screaming and the people next door came round.”

When paramedics arrived, a pulse was detected and Russell was rushed to hospital in nearby Ashford.

However, doctors revealed he had suffered brain damage and placed him on end-of-life care. He died in hospital, five days later, on November 23.

His inquest heard he had been displaying “suicidal tendencies” before his death. The cause of death was given as a brain injury caused by hanging.

Russell Norman’s girlfriend breaks silence

After the verdict was returned, Dr Verdigel posted a statement, along with a picture of the couple in happier times, on Instagram.

She said: “When all is said and done, what you come to realise are the most important words are those that remain, and will remain, a conversation between two people and to which the rest of the world will never be privy.

“And, at the end of the day, is that not the most important thing about the spoken word… it can never be emulated nor replicated. It is a moment in time. And once it is gone it is gone. Like a candle, eradicated in a puff of smoke. Yet the smoking tendrils remain.”

He received tributes from his well-wishers

Russell’s business partner, Richard Beatty, announced his death and called him his “best friend.” He said: “It is with the greatest sadness I announce the loss of my best friend Russell Norman. After a short battle in hospital, he died surrounded by his close family and friends.”

Since then, well-wishers and friends have sent in their tributes, including restaurant critic Jay Rayner who hailed Mr Norman as “one of the most gifted of restaurateurs”. “So sorry to hear of the death. Far too young, of Russell Norman. He was one of the most gifted of restaurateurs. A terrific writer and an awful lot of fun to be around. He very much lived life his own way. My thoughts are with his family and friends,” he said.

According to Square Meal, fellow London restauranter Robin Gill was “shocked” when he found out about Russell’s passing. He branded the star as a “legend” and an “inspiration.”

While he was known as the “new king of Soho dining” Russell quickly established himself in the London restaurant scene in 2012. Russell also published several cookbooks, one of which sold 250,000 copies and won Waterstones Book of the Year in the same year. He even presented a six-part documentary for BBC 2 in 2014 called The Restaurant Man.

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An interview with Russell Norman - winner of Waterstones Book of the Year for Polpo

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Nancy Brown
Associate Editor