Rose Gray, MBE (28 January 1939 – 28 February 2010) was a British chef and cookery writer, who set up (with Ruth Rogers) The River Café in 1987. She won a Michelin star for this in 1998. It was here that the talents of Jamie Oliver were first spotted. She had a profound influence on a generation of celebrity chefs including Oliver, Theo Randall and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the latter stating that she had had more influence on him than any other person he had worked with. She wrote a series of cookery books and presented a twelve-part television programme for Channel Four, "The Italian Kitchen", in 1998.
Born Clemency Anne Rosemary Swann in Bedford, her father, Flight Lieutenant Clement Nelson Swann, 26, and a seven-month-old sister were killed in a domestic fire six months before her birth. She was brought up in Scotland and Surrey. Her mother, (Elizabeth) Anne Lawrence, daughter of Sir William Lawrence, 3rd Baronet, settled near Guildford, and Rose studied at the Guildford College of Art, where she gained a BA in Fine Art. Her career as a professional chef began at Nell's restaurant in New York, after which time she returned to London.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. In 2004 she became a "Breast Cancer Ambassador" and was also co-founder of the Cooks in Schools charity. She was in remission from breast cancer for five years before it returned and metastasised to her brain in late 2009 or early 2010. She died at home in Marylebone, London, aged 71, on 28 February 2010. She had been working on what was to be her last book (with Ruth Rogers), the River Café Classic Italian Cookery Book. Her other works (many of which were co-authored with Ruth Rogers) include the River Café Cookbook, the River Café Cookbook Green and River Café Pocket Books: Salads and Vegetables.
In 1961 or 1962, she married Michael Selby Gray. They had a son, Ossian and two daughters, Hester and Lucy; the marriage ended in divorce. She had a son, Dante MacIlwaine Gray (born 1973), by her partner David Robin MacIlwaine, whom she was married to from 2004 until her death. They lived part of their life in Tuscany, where Rose first developed her interest in Italian food.
- "Rose Gray". The Daily Telegraph. 1 March 2010. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
- Levy, Paul (2 March 2010). "Rose Gray: Chef and restaurateur who co-founded the River Café". The Independent. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
- Laing, Aislinn (1 March 2010). "River Café founder Rose Gray: 'a pioneer of simple, delicious cooking'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
- Grimes, William (1 March 2010). "Rose Gray, a Master of Italian Fare, Is Dead at 71". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
- Grice, Elizabeth (2 March 2010). "Rose Gray: formidable, funny and irrepressible". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
- Rogers, Ben (2 March 2010). "Rose Gray, my other mother and a great cook". The Times. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
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