Obituary: David Baldwin, chef and restaurateur

David Baldwin, who has died at 80, was a chef and restaurateur who for many years ran the well-known Sheffield eatery, Baldwins Omega – an establishment known to members of the Restaurant Association, of which he had been chairman and president, as The Big ’Un.

David Baldwin at his restaurant

He and his wife, Pauline, founded it in 1980, though they already had a long history in hospitality – starting at the Angler’s Rest in Bamford before moving to the Hillsborough Suite at Sheffield Wednesday, which at the time was leased from the Mansfield Brewery.

But it was the Omega in Brincliffe that made them famous throughout the city. It had been designed in 1962 by Sheffield Refreshment Houses, who intended it to be the most modern dining experience outside London. Mr Baldwin had been a grill chef there in the early 1960s and dreamed of one day owning it.

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In his hands, it became a mirror of the changing times, hosting events for sports and social clubs from the big steelworks before gravitating to Rotary functions, and then private birthdays, weddings and anniversaries.

A native of the city’s Broomhall district, Mr Baldwin had started his culinary career as a teenager at Tuckwoods restaurant in the centre of Sheffield, telling people that he had “left school at 10 to four and was peeling potatoes at 10 past”.

He went on to work at the Grand Hotel and joined the Merchant Navy before running a number of pubs, including the Beehive in Hillsborough and the Wheatsheaf on Ecclesall Road.

Baldwins Omega closed in 2018, by which time its owner had gained an honorary doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University for services to catering and hospitality and for his charitable work with the Variety Club of Great Britain.

A familiar figure within his industry, his former head chef, Stephen Roebuck, recalled him taking on his fellow restaurateur Heston Blumenthal, as he gave a speech to a London audience about the quality of catering in the South East. As Mr Roebuck recalled it, Mr Baldwin rose to his feet to defend honour of the North, shouting from the audience: “Let me tell you, you’ve got it all wrong.”

He is survived by Pauline and by his children, David, Benny and Polly and four grandchildren.