Rick Stein holding fish in a harbour - Credit: Richard Grassie / Radio Times

Rick Stein on the mental impact of retirement: “Let’s not push older people out of the workplace”

The TV chef on how open heart surgery cured his aches and pains, coming to terms with his dad’s suicide, and why retirement isn’t on his radar.

At 77, renowned chef Rick Stein shows no signs of putting down his whisk. Ahead of his latest tour, Stein sat down with our very own Saga Magazine for a candid conversation about his life, from health scares to overcoming personal struggles, and shared his thoughts on the importance of work for older generations.

Stein, who underwent open-heart surgery in 2019, described it as a new lease of life.

“After I had the new valve, all the aches and pains disappeared,” he said. “It shows you what a central part the heart plays in your day-to-day life. It’s not just breathing… it’s everything.”

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On losing a parent at 18

Stein also spoke openly about the emotional impact of his father’s suicide when he was just 18.

“Losing a parent is awful,” he said. “I worked out my emotional response to what happened many years ago. By that, I mean I’ve put my thoughts and emotions in their respective places.”

Rick Stein with his wife SarahCredit: Shutterstock/Richard Young
Rick Stein with his wife Sarah, who he married in 2011

Stein’s experience with his father’s early retirement has led him to advocate against pushing older people out of the workforce prematurely. 

“Dad took early retirement and he struggled without all the camaraderie and pressure of work,” he said, highlighting the mental impact that can accompany early retirement. 

And he puts his money where his mouth is, telling Saga Magazine that while the industry focuses on younger people, he’s got some over 60s working in his restaurants.  

“Let’s not be too hasty to push older people out of the workplace,” he urged.

How food brings us all together

Stein, who has no plans to retire himself, says he still finds great joy in his work.

“I love travelling, meeting people and talking to them about food,” he said. “I love being in the restaurants, seeing the kitchen in full flow.”

It’s been 49 years since Stein launched his famous restaurant The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall and in that time he’s seen a marked change in the state of British food.

“British tastes now include Indian, Nepalese, Thai, Korean, Italian,” he says. “Food breaks down barriers, it brings us all together.”

An Evening with Rick Stein will be on tour from 15-30 March. 

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Written by Danny Scott

Updated: