The Godfather of Italian dining in Sydney, Beppi Polese has passed away, following complications with an infection.

His namesake restaurant will turn 60 later this year, and has long been considered an institution in Sydney’s foodservice scene.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Polese’s son, Marc, released a statement soon after his father’s passing on 21 March. It reads “He lived courageously all his life and achieved great things from humble beginnings.

“He touched so many people’s lives; not only those in his immediate family but those who worked with him and those he served. He was a father figure to so many people and I will miss deeply.”

More than a much-loved local, Beppi’s was the stomping ground for a number of high flying celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Rihanna, Pink, Julio Inglesias, Joe Cocker and Billy Joel as well as politicians including John Howard, Bob Hawke and Julie Bishop.

Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA) CEO John Hart said Polese's contribution to the sector and the Australian way of dining was second to none.

“Beppi was one of the true masters of our industry. Unpretentious and passionate, his food was always from the heart. You went for a meal but you stayed for the hospitality. This is a legacy that will live on through his family and his restaurant.

“Beppi inspired and mentored others in their passion for food. From humble beginnings came a great icon for Sydney. Our industry is richer for having Beppi in it,” Hart said.

Beppi Polese joined R&CA in the early 70s and was awarded the R&CA Lifetime Achiever Award in 2006.

A number of chefs have turned to social media to share their respect for Polese, including Italian restaurateur Carmel Ruggeri, who said “Addio Beppi Polese…..what an institution he built, what a man!”, while chef John Lanzafame said “Great man what a great inspiration to all restaurateur amazing story (sic)”. 

Paul Rifkin, executive chef at Campbelltown Catholic Club, wrote "The end of an era. Thanks to Beppi we have a rich variety of Italian restaurants, a true visionary….thank you."

Polese died aged 90, and is survived by his wife Norma, son Marc, daughter-in-law Sheena and three grandchildren: Luca, Nicolo and Mia.

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