Celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall today paid tribute to a ”delightful” cook from his River Cottage team who has died in a suspected suicide.
Tragic Philippa Corbin, 27, was discovered at her parents’ house last Friday and police are not treating her death as suspicious.
Philippa, of Uplyme near Lyme Regis in Dorset, had worked with the celebrity chef for more than five years.
She assisted in the kitchen and helped at major events, including the unveiling of the new River Cottage HQ at Park Farm in 2006.
But she was found dead at the home of her parents Hugh and Pam Corbin, who are well known for running Uplyme’s former Thursday Cottage Jam factory.
Fearnley-Whittingstall, 46, yesterday led tributes to Philippa – who he described as a ”bright spark” who would be ”greatly missed”.
He said: ”Everybody at River Cottage loved working with Pip – she was a very bright spark with a real passion for locally produced, ethical, artisan food.
”Her knowledge and talent were respected not only by her colleagues here, but, through her work at our festivals and with the Slow Food movement, by the whole West Country food community.
”She will be greatly missed by us all. Our special thoughts and prayers are with her parents, Hugh and Pam, her sister Maddy and her partner Owen.”
Her former teacher Jim Thomas, head of sixth form at Woodroffe (corr) School, said Philippa was ”really passionate” about food.
He said: ”She was a delightful young lady. She was hard working, caring, she had a good group of friends who she kept in touch with.
”Everybody is devastated for her family and for her friends. All we can do is pray for them and wish them the best. They are going to need a lot of support to get over this and we really are devastated by the news.
”All we can do is send our love to the family and to her group of friends. She had a really good, strong group of friends and we feel for them too because a lot of them were Woodroffe students.
”All the staff who taught her had the same feeling as to what a lovely girl she was. She was a pleasure to teach. She was somebody who always gave her best to everything she did.
”She decided not to go to university, she worked particularly in the food industry because her parents had a love of food – they ran Thursday Cottage Jam.”
Philippa spent two years in Ireland, first at Ballymaloe (corr) cookery school and continued her chef training at Ballymaloe House and in Cork.
In 2006 she opened a new slow food market in Exeter, Devon, with fellow food enthusiast Freddy Dudbridge.
Police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death. An inquest into her death was opened and adjourned on Wednesday.
Philippa’s funeral will be held on Thursday, February 3 at 3pm in Uplyme Church.