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LONDON (Reuters) - Hungarian-born food critic Egon Ronay, famous in Britain for his restaurant guidebooks, has died at the age of 94, a family friend said on Saturday.
Ronay is credited with encouraging an interest in good food that has helped to raise the standards of British restaurants and spawned a generation of celebrity chefs.
Ronay, who had been unwell in recent weeks, died on Saturday morning at his home in southern England, with his wife Barbara and two daughters by his side, close friend and broadcaster Nick Ross told British media.
Raised in Budapest where his father had a number of high-class restaurants, Ronay emigrated to Britain after World War Two and managed restaurants in London's West End.
He wrote a food column for the Daily Telegraph newspaper and then launched his first guide to restaurants in 1957. They became best sellers and a recommendation from Ronay became a mark of quality for eateries over the next three decades.
Ronay, who worked with a team of anonymous inspectors, always turned down free hospitality to try to ensure that his guides were impartial.
He also campaigned to improve the quality of food on offer to travelers in British airports and motorway service stations.
Ronay lost control of the books in 1985 when he sold them to motoring organization the Automobile Association. He relaunched a version of the guides in 2005 in collaboration with the RAC, another motoring group.
Editing by Janet Lawrence