The sudden death of celebrity chef Darren Simpson from a reported heart attack has rocked the culinary community, including many of his closest friends.
Irish-born Simpson, who was the resident television chef on Sunrise for some time, died near his home in Byron Bay in northern NSW on Thursday afternoon, the Seven Network reported on Friday. He was aged in his mid-40s.
He had recently attempted rehabilitation at a clinic for alcohol addiction before ending up in hospital, according to News Corp Australia.
The father-of-two was born in Northern Ireland and named UK's Young Chef of the Year at the age of 21.
In 1999, he moved to Sydney to head the kitchen at Aqua Luna Bar and Restaurant in Circular Quay.
He worked at La Sala in Surry Hills, Barrenjoey House in Palm Beach, Woollahra's La Scala on Jersey and The Light Brigade, before heading north to BV Pizzeria and Wine Bar on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.
Simpson was awarded Chef of the Year by the Australian Hotels Association in 2011.
His smiling face was beamed onto Australian TV screens through hosting gigs on Ready, Steady Cook, My Restaurant Rules, and Lifestyle FOOD's The Best in Australia with chef Ben O'Donoghue and cook Anna Gare.
In a Facebook post at 8.20pm on Thursday, O'Donoghue said he was "in shock" to hear his "old friend" had died.
"I had tried to get in touch with him for awhile," he said in the post, adding that the pair had "good times in London Town" when they worked together at Michelin-starred Italian restaurant The River Cafe.
"Very sad! He was very proud of them (his two sons) I know that."
Simpson is survived by his sons, 14-year-old Angus and 12-year-old Hamish.
ARIA owner Matt Moran posted tributes on social media on Friday to "one of the best" in the business.
"Sad news about fellow chef Darren Simpson RIP old mate! ... Thinking of his family," Moran said.
New Zealand-born celebrity chef Jason Roberts said he was devastated by the death of his "young gun" friend.
"RIP Darren Simpson. The world has lost another brilliant mind," he said in a Facebook post on Thursday night.
Simpson's family in the UK have also been stunned by the loss.
"My uncle Darren has passed away, he was truly one of a kind! He was a funny immature, caring guy, gonna miss you and your sick jokes! Love you Uncle Darren," his nephew Matt posted to Facebook.