Sydney Chef Kerby Craig has unexpectedly passed away at the age of 38.

Craig was the founder of the Ume brand, going on to launch venues across the city including Bar Ume, Ume Burger, Pasta Wafu, Ume Dog and Don Taco.

His family released a statement paying tribute to Craig and all his accomplishments.

“With deep sorrow, we announce the unexpected passing of our founder, our dearest son and brother, mentor and friend, Kerby Craig. Words can barely express our grief.”

Craig began his career in the industry at the age of 15 when he left school to take on an apprenticeship under Tetsuya Wakuda at his Rozelle restaurant.

It wasn’t long before he left Sydney to take the Michelin star path in London and Canada before returning to Sydney to work at Koi, which received six hats during his tenure.

Craig went on to launch Ume in Surry Hills in 2012, which would inspire the launch of Ume Burger, a business that was “his pride and joy”.

“Through establishing Sydney’s premier fast-casual Japanese burger restaurant, Kerby created a living legacy that tens of thousands of foodies have experienced and loved, and will continue to across two landmark venues with a future vision we hope to deliver on,” reads the statement.

The chef was very much a part of the fabric of Sydney’s hospitality scene and was known to be “outspoken, loyal and charismatic with a larger-than-life personality”.

As Ume celebrates its 10th year in business, Craig recently reflected on the impact of the brand and the people behind it.

“Ume is a success because of a team of people that have stuck by me. Success is not one person,” he said. “That’s why it’s U plus Me.”

Ume restaurants will remain open for business as usual, with Craig’s family respectfully requested privacy at this time.

“We extend our heartfelt thanks for your condolences. We express our gratitude to all who have supported Kerby in his journey and have supported his businesses.”

A tribute will be made in the coming weeks.

Vale Kerby Craig.