Jamie Oliver has paid tribute to one of the original apprentices from his Fifteen restaurant, who has been found dead in a garden.
Kevin Boyle, 26, was reported missing from Purley, south London, last October, prompting an appeal for information from his former mentor.
A body was found in the back garden of a house in Coulsdon, south London, on Sunday afternoon. His death is being treated as unexplained, with a post-mortem examination planned to take place in Croydon tomorrow (Tuesday).
TV chef Jamie, who trained Kevin as part of the Channel 4 series Jamie’s Kitchen in 2002, said he was “deeply saddened” by the news.
Kevin appeared in the final episodes of the programme, having been recruited into the group of 15 budding chefs when someone else dropped out. He progressed to working at various restaurants, most recently Vinoteca in Clerkenwell, and had cooked for the Prince of Wales and former prime minister Tony Blair.
Jamie said: “I’m deeply saddened by this tragic news. I am proud to have been able to call Kevin a friend for 10 years and he was also a constant supporter of Fifteen and all the apprentices and graduates who came after him through the course.
“I last saw him in September 2011 at the graduation ceremony for the ninth group of apprentices and he was on good form which makes this news even harder to take.
“My thoughts are with his family at this incredibly difficult time.”
Scotland Yard said they are awaiting formal identification and that Kevin’s next of kin have been informed.