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Sydney chef and founder of iconic fusion burger joint dies suddenly

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Celebrated Sydney chef and founder of the successful Japanese fusion brand Ume Kerby Craig has died.

The 38-year-old had worked at Michelin star restaurants in the United Kingdom and Canada before returning home to dominate the local food scene.

"Words can barely express our grief," a message posted to Ume's social media pages said.

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"Kerby strived to live out his passions and worked tirelessly to make Ume what it is today, bringing joy and fun to people through good food.

"He was driven and free-spirited, pursuing his goals with a determination very few people possess."

Craig began his career in hospitality at just 15 after dropping out of school and worked at famed Japanese-Australian chef Tetsuya Wakuda's restaurant in Rozelle.

He spent time in London honing his craft and when he returned to Sydney he worked at as a Chef de partie at the now-closed Koi restaurant in Woolwich where he earned six consecutive hats.

In 2012 he opened fine-dining Japanese restaurant Ume in Surry Hills. This eventually morphed into a fusion burger joint which closed in 2021 after the lease expired.

Before its closure two Ume Burge spin-offs had opened in other parts of the city, with one at Barangaroo and another in nearby Darling Square.

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"Kerby's devotion to cooking and business peaked through the creation of his pride and joy, Ume Burger," the tribute to the chef read.

"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."

The Ume brand is approaching its ten year anniversary, and Craig recently told his team: "Ume is a success because of a team of people that have stuck by me. Success is not one person. That's why it's U plus Me".

"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. We respectfully request privacy at this difficult time. A proper tribute will be made in the coming weeks," the post said.

"The Ume restaurants will be open for business as usual, just as Kerby would have wanted.

"We are bereft. He was our everything. Our hearts are broken.

"Rest in Peace."





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