Egon Ronay

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Egon Ronay
Egon Miklos Ronay

(1915-07-24)24 July 1915
Died12 June 2010(2010-06-12) (aged 94)
OccupationFood critic
Notable workGuidebooks to British and Irish restaurants and hotels
Children2 daus, Esther & Edina Ronay

Egon Miklos Ronay (24 July 1915 – 12 June 2010)[1] was a Hungarian-born food critic who wrote and published a famous series of guides to British and Irish restaurants and hotels in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Egon Ronay's guidebooks are credited with raising the quality of British cooking offered in public eating places. Ronay also championed foreign cuisine to British diners.

Early life[edit]

Born in 1915 at Bratislava, Austria-Hungary, the only child of former Royal Hungarian Army captain Miklos Ronay, a prominent restaurateur,[1] his grandfather, Nikolaus von (Miklos) Ronay, established the famous Grand Hotel at Piešťany, now Slovakia.[2] The family moved to Budapest when he was aged two[3] and with the onset of World War II, he was commissioned in the Hungarian Army serving with the occupying forces after the First and Second Vienna Awards in southern Slovakia and northern Transylvania.[4]

The Ronay family business suffered during wartime, and was taken over by the Communists once Hungary fell under Soviet control after the defeat of the Nazis.[5]


Ronay emigrated to London, England alone on 10 October 1946. His father's contacts arranged for him to manage Princes restaurant in Piccadilly, and then the Carousel Club in St James's.[6] He then borrowed £4,000 and took over The Marquee, a 39-seat former tea room, near Harrods, putting classic French dishes on the menu, which was unusual for post-war Britain.

The renowned TV-chef Fanny Cradock visited with her husband, Johnnie, and subsequently Ronay built up useful contacts with the press. After much cajoling, he began to write a food column for The Daily Telegraph.

In his later years, Ronay acted as food consultant for pub chain J D Wetherspoon, visiting outlets in his chauffeur-driven car "to ensure the onion rings were sufficiently crispy and the baked potatoes up to standard"![7] He also worked with motorway service station company Welcome Break to promote their products.

Awarded the Médaille de la Ville de Paris in 1983, he was appointed a Chevalier of the Order of Agricultural Merit in 1987 and was a Chevalier du Tastevin.[8]

Egon Ronay's Guide[edit]

In 1957, Ronay completed the first edition of the Egon Ronay's Guide to British Eateries,[1] selling 30,000 copies. The guides gained in popularity and it became a mark of distinction to be mentioned in the books. Many restaurants proudly displayed blue roundels in their window saying EGON RONAY'S GUIDE for each year they were listed. His guides made a point of not accepting advertising or hospitality from hotels and restaurants to ensure impartiality.

Ronay sold the rights to his books to The AA in 1985. However, after subsequent owner Leading Guides International went into bankruptcy, in 1997 Ronay went to court to claim back the guides which bore his name.[9] In 2005, in conjunction with the Royal Automobile Club, Ronay brought out Egon Ronay's RAC Guide to the Top 200 Restaurants in the UK, basing the reviews on comments received by restaurant inspectors.

Personal life[edit]

Twice married, he divorced Edit (m. 1935) in 1967, when he married the painter, Barbara Greenslade. His younger daughter Edina Ronay (b. 1943), who dated Sir Michael Caine, is a former actress and fashion designer. His elder daughter, Esther, was a BBC TV editor and independent documentary producer. Always steadfastly refusing to give his age when interviewed, Ronay died at his Berkshire home in Yattendon on 12 June 2010 after a short illness.[1][5][6][10][11]


  1. ^ a b c d Grimes, William (14 June 2010). "Egon Ronay, Publisher of Food Guides, Dies at 94". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  2. ^ Rónai Nagyszálloda, Pöstyén @
  3. ^ "Desert Island Disks". BBC. 19 February 1977.
  4. ^ Levy, Paul (14 June 2010). "Egon Ronay: Restaurateur and journalist who fled Hungary to make a lasting impact on British gastronomy". The Independent. London. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Restaurant critic Egon Ronay dies". BBC News. 12 June 2010. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
  6. ^ a b Fallon, Amy (12 June 2010). "Food critic Egon Ronay dies". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
  7. ^ "Ronay, the restaurant critic who pays his way, is back after a". The Independent. 9 October 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Kate Watson-Smyth (9 October 1997). "Egon Ronay forces guide publishers to close". The Independent. London. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
  10. ^ Wynne-Jones, Jonathan (12 June 2010). "Food critic Egon Ronay dies". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
  11. ^ "Egon Ronay, first career critic of British food, died on 12 June, aged about 94". The Economist. 24 June 2010. Retrieved 26 June 2010.

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