Egon Ronay (born 24 July 1915) is a Hungarian food critic who wrote and published a famous series of food guides in Britain in the 1950s.
Ronay was born in Budapest and, after his wealthy father lost his substantial estate to the Russians after World War II, emigrated to England alone on October 10, 1946. His father's contacts arranged for him to manage a restaurant in Piccadilly.
Later he took over his own 39 seat restaurant near Harrods called the Marquee, putting classic French dishes on the menu - somewhat unusual for post-War London. The renowned TV chef Fanny Cradock and husband, Johnny, visited and subsequently Ronay built up useful contacts with the press. After much cajoling, he began to write a food column for the Daily Telegraph.
In 1957, Ronay completed the first edition of the Egon Ronay Guide to British eateries, selling 30,000 copies. The guides gained in popularity and it became a mark of distinction to be mentioned in the books. Many restaurants proudly displayed blue roundels in their window saying "EGON RONAY'S GUIDES" for each year they were listed. The guides made a point of not accepting advertising or hospitality from hotels and restaurants to ensure its impartiality.
Ronay sold the rights to his books to the AA in 1985. However, the company that subsequently purchased the titles went into bankruptcy and Ronay went to court to claim back the guides which bore his name. In 2005, in conjunction with the Royal Automobile Club, Ronay brought out Egon Ronay's RAC Guide: To the Top 200 Restaurants in the UK, basing the reviews on comments received by restaurant inspectors.
Ronay acted as food consultant for JD Wetherspoon (the pub chain) and often visited their outlets in his chauffeur driven car to ensure the onion rings were sufficiently crispy and the jacket potatoes up to standard. As well as this, he worked for Welcome Break, the motorway service station company, promoting their food and drinks.
His daughter is Edina Ronay, the former actress and fashion designer, and his granddaughter, Shebah, is an actress and writer.
In various interviews, Ronay has steadfastly refused to give his age.