Missing Jamie Oliver apprentice who worked in Finsbury found dead

Tributes paid to “gifted” Kevin Boyle by mentor Jamie Oliver and friends.

One of the original apprentices from Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant has been found dead three months after going missing.

Talented chef Kevin Boyle, 26, who worked at Vinoteca in St John Street, Finsbury, disappeared in October and a body found in the back garden of a house in Coulsdon, south London, on Sunday afternoon, is believed to be his.

The death is being treated as unexplained, with a post-mortem examination due today. Formal identification is yet to take place.

TV chef Mr Oliver, who trained Mr Boyle as part of the Channel 4 series Jamie's Kitchen in 2002, said he was "deeply saddened" by the news.

Mr Boyle, of Old Lodge Lane, Purley, Surrey, appeared in the final episodes of the programme, having been recruited into the group of 15 budding chefs at the restaurant in Hoxton when someone else dropped out. He progressed to working at various establishments and had cooked for the Prince of Wales and former prime minister Tony Blair.

Mr Oliver 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.

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"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."

Friend Peter Fosdike has also paid tribute to Mr Boyle. He said: “Kevin never failed to amaze us or make an impact on our lives. He was passionate about his friends and we are only now seeing just how many friends from all over the world he has, he was truly and deeply loved by so many.

“He used to cook for his friends and surprise them with tastes that we may never have the delight of experiencing again, he was a masterful chef. Kevin was humble and caring and yet was bold and creative enough not to shy away from a challenge, he was looking for a business partner to set up a restaurant and achieved incredible feats in his life.”

It continued: “As a group of friends from Purley Baptist Church, a close and loving community, he will be deeply missed, a family has lost their brother. Despite having little he would give everything he had and more, to make us sensational food and bring life to a gathering.”

He added: “I will remember him for his passionate conversations, his booming and delightful laugh, his ability to win any debate, and his love for others. I am sure others will remember him for his charm, his caring heart and most of all his utter selflessness and dedication to all those around him.

“He was witty, intelligent and quick to laugh, but also deeply sensitive, compassionate and rebuking of the injustices of this world.”