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Celebrity chef Russell Norman hanged himself after a drunken argument with his girlfriend, an inquest has heard.

The award-winning chef and restaurant owner was found on November 18 last year in the garden of his Kent home and was rushed to hospital.

The 57-year-old, who regularly appeared on BBC‘s Saturday Kitchen and presented The Restaurant Man, suffered severe brain damage.

Despite medical attempts to save him, he died five days later in hospital surrounded by his family and friends.

Mr Norman was lauded as the ‘new king of Soho dining’ when he established himself on the London restaurant scene in 2012 after he invented the concept of small Italian plates and revived the Negroni cocktail. 

An inquest heard he had twice the amount of alcohol in his system than the legal drink-drive limit, and a conclusion of suicide by hanging was recorded.

The inquest at Oakwood House in Maidstone on Friday heard he had gone into the garden of his home in Pluckley after arguing with girlfriend Dr Genevieve Verdigel.

In a statement read by Coroner Katrina Hepburn, Dr Verdigel, an art historian, told how she had later discovered Mr Norman lying unconscious in the garden.

She said: ‘I ran back inside to call 999. I was trying to do CPR. I was screaming and the people next door came round.’

Celebrity chef Russell Norman hanged himself in garden after drunken argument with his girlfriend, an inquest has heard

Celebrity chef Russell Norman hanged himself in garden after drunken argument with his girlfriend, an inquest has heard 

The inquest at Oakwood House in Maidstone on Friday heard he had gone into the garden of his home in Pluckley after arguing with girlfriend Dr Genevieve Verdigel. She posted this picture and message of them yesterday

The inquest at Oakwood House in Maidstone on Friday heard he had gone into the garden of his home in Pluckley after arguing with girlfriend Dr Genevieve Verdigel. She posted this picture and message of them yesterday

In a statement read by Coroner Katrina Hepburn, Dr Verdigel, an art historian, told how she had later discovered Mr Norman lying unconscious in the garden

In a statement read by Coroner Katrina Hepburn, Dr Verdigel, an art historian, told how she had later discovered Mr Norman lying unconscious in the garden

A pulse was detected during resuscitation attempts and paramedics rushed Mr Norman to the William Harvey Hospital in nearby Ashford.

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

His inquest heard he had been displaying ‘suicidal tendencies’ before his death.

The cause of Norman’s death was given as a brain injury caused by hanging, with Ms Hepburn recording a verdict of suicide.

Mr Norman’s unexpected death summoned floods of tributes, with former Saturday Kitchen host James Martin hailing him as a ‘giant’ of the restaurant world.

He was renowned for spearheading the ‘small plates’ and no reservations movements at his restaurants, most notably the popular Italian eateries Polpo and Brutto in London.

Russell Norman starred in the BBC2 show The Restaurant Man

Russell Norman starred in the BBC2 show The Restaurant Man

His first book, Polpo: a Venetian Cookbook (of Sorts), won the Waterstones Book of the Year in 2012 and, four years later, his second book, SPUNTINO – Comfort Food (New York Style), won the 2016 Guild of Food Writers Award for best food and travel book.

He was later rewarded with his own BBC2 documentary series The Restaurant Man, in which he advised would-be restauranteurs who packed in their day jobs to follow their dreams of opening a restaurant.

Following his death, former Saturday Kitchen host James Martin, 51, paid tribute to him Norman in a post on X (formerly Twitter), writing: ‘Just heard the news that today we lost a giant and a legend in the restaurant world, Russell Norman, who was and will always be an inspiration for so many.’

Stefan Chomka, editor of Restaurant magazine, added: ‘He loved restaurants that were like him – that had lots of charm and great character.

‘He had a real sense of hospitality, as well as joy, intelligence, generosity and an eye for detail.

‘He had a magpie tendency: he would take inspiration from restaurants in Italy, New York and London and bring them all together.’

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This post first appeared on Daily mail

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