I sent a birthday message to a friend, client, fellow restaurateur and bon viveur wishing him a Happy Birthday the other day: Rex Leyland was a partner in one of the most famous 80s eateries in London — Fox Trot Oscar — he replied telling me that his partner and well known restaurateur, raconteur, bon vivant and the ravish host of said restaurant had passed away at the very young age of 70 last December, I felt that the passing of such an icon should not go without notice.
Michael Proudlock left this earth in a fashion befitting of a bon viveur. After a “lavish lunch” at PJ’s Bar and Grill, Chelsea on Tuesday 4th December, this renowned restaurateur returned to his home and sadly passed away from a heart attack.
Old Etonian Proudlock – a fixture at first La Brasserie and then The Ivy Chelsea Garden, after the acclaimed establishment he co-owned with Rex Leyland was sold to Gordon Ramsay in 2007 – was gregarious to his core and connected beyond belief. With everyone from Prince William to Playboy executive Victor Lownes III as customers of Foxtrot Oscar, his was a restaurant peppered with glamour. . It was also where Prince Harry took dates as a teenager and Liz Taylor famously fell off her stool.
The environs were shabby-chic, long before that was fashionable, and the food was the kind of nostalgic nursery fare that reminded customers of boarding school, or what nanny would have made.
Just like PG Wodehouse’s fictional Drones Club, all of the regulars at Foxtrot Oscar, the sometimes notorious restaurant near the Kings Road in London, had schoolboy nicknames, including “Mental”, “Dwarf” and “Mother”. John Bryan, the Duchess of York’s toe-sucking financial adviser/lover who owned a flat opposite, was unsentimentally dubbed “Osram”, after the make of light bulb, owing to his baldness
Michael Proudlock, the Old Etonian proprietor, escaped with being called by his surname. Yet the monikers were characteristic of the place, pervaded as it was with a certain kind of upper-class Englishness.
Hi son Oliver, himself somewhat of a personality being one of the ‘stars’ of the reality TV show, “Made in Chelsea” has paid tribute to his father Michael, who died suddenly on December 4, aged 70.:
‘Oh how you loved it when I kissed yah. Papa P; what an absolute legend. These photos pretty much sum it up. So many amazing memories and glorious times. You were a force of nature. Always smiling, and always making people laugh. Thank you for being the best Dad in the whole world, and thank you for making me the man I am today. I will continue to try and make you proud, and will talk of the legend that is the penguin for the rest of my days. ❤️ RIP.’
With his passing, yet another Chelsea beacon has been put out. Michael Proudlock will be greatly missed by many, especially his old friend and partner Rex Leyland.
(Thanks to The Times, Oliver Proudlock and the Steeple Times for some content)