TONY FINCH: R.I.P.
For 90% of the people who read this board, this name will mean nothing. But, for those who love life and food, there are few better examples of a life well lived.
I first met Tony Finch about 7 years ago when we both spent far too much time posting on a food website called Chowhound.
Inevitably, we decided that it would be good to organise a meal for the UK crowd at St John. I had no idea what he may look like. But, the moment, I walked into the restaurant bar to see a large ruddy faced man drinking a glass of wine, I knew that was Tony and I knew, instinctively, that he was going to be my friend. This is a man who drew good humour to him like a magnet and I immediately loved him. Everybody who met him did.
On the various food boards we populated over the next few years, he had one persona. Ornery, argumentative and challenging. Off the boards he was entirely different, genuine, passionate and the single most honest person I can ever recall meeting. We spent many, many evenings together.
My favourite thought of Tony is from a food board Christmas meal at The Sutton Arms. I was sitting next to him as I always chose to do, for there was no better company. The main course was belly pork. His portion arrived and he smiled at how sizeable it was. Then, mine arrived. A slab the size of Wales with a slice of crackling the size of a football pitch. Much, much bigger than his. His face fell like a child who came down on Christmas morning to find that, instead of the Chopper bike he had wriiten to Santa for, he got a single Satsuma.
Sensing his pain,I hacked a bit off my portion and put it on his plate. His smile reappeared and he put his arm around me and said in his overly exaggerated East London Jewish accent “ you’re like a bruvver to me” I have seldom felt more honoured.
A year or so later, I fell out with him for reasons far too stupid to mention here and I stopped seeing him. He extended an olive branch to me a couple of times but I petulantly brushed them aside more through embarrassment than anger.
I regret it now, which is easy with hindsight, but I am comforted by the thought that, if I had ever got over my own stupidity and contacted him, he would have assumed that same East End Jewish accent and said “ no bovver, let’s go and have dinner” and that would have been it. That’s the kind of man he was. Although, I did not always think he was my friend, I am pretty sure he always thought I was his.
It will always be to my shame that I did not take more opportunity to sit across the dinner table from this remarkable person. But, I am grateful that I, at least, had chance to spend the time I did with man who truly knew how to live life to its most full.
My thoughts now go out to his family and his wife, Fahro
If any of us reading this enjoy life 1/10th the amount Tony Finch did. We will do well.
God rest, Tony my “bruvver”