Russell Norman, 57, took his OWN life in garden after drunken argument with girlfriend


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

How he Was Found Dead

The award-winning chef and restaurant owner, who regularly appeared on BBC‘s Saturday Kitchen and also presented The Restaurant Man, was found dead in the garden of his Kent home on November 18 last year.

Despite his girlfriend and medical staff attempting to do CPR on him, he suffered severe brain damage and died five days later in hospital aged 57 surrounded by his family and friends.

How he Made Himself a Name

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. 

The inquest at Oakwood House in Maidstone yesterday 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.

What Really Happened?

Mr Norman had gone into the garden of his home in Pluckley after arguing with his art historian girlfriend Dr Genevieve Verdigel. 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.’

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

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What Doctors Discovered

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

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

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

Following the inquest, a heartbroken Dr Verdigel shared a picture of her and Mr Norman in happier times with a lengthy caption.

Tribute to Norman

She wrote: ‘Isn’t it odd how the epilogue is often the part of a novel that provides the most clarity. The passages that all wish they could have flicked forward to without having to read the prose inbetween.

‘Well, the epilogue here is a simple one. Because Russell wrote it himself: ‘Always keep your counsel. (And) Trust yourself because no-one else will.

‘To enter into a soliloquy on what Russell meant to me, what a character he was, or what I learnt from him, would be banal. Those words have already been said, written and published by others.

‘I won’t talk about the torture I have undergone at the hands of brutes; those who need to know already know. And I have no intent to add words to that noise.

‘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.

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‘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 is Giant of the Restaurant World’

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.

What Norman Was Known For

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.

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.

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Ola Alabi
Ola Moses is a certified writer, He writes technically and creatively. He is the CEO of WORDSWORTH, a house where writing is made easier for all. He is a content creator at EsB TV, since 2019. He is a young man that showcases professionalism in all that he does, he was announced as Child and Green Foundation Person of the Year 2018, one of his many lists of honours.


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