Bindu Patel, the award-winning chef-owner of Sanctua vegan restaurant in Leicester, has died suddenly at the age of 37.

Bindu fulfilled her long held dream by opening Sanctua, in the Oadby district of Leicester, which offered a completely plant-based eclectic menu, employing mostly fresh, local and seasonal ingredients, including the use of ‘wonky’ vegetables.

Since opening her planet-based restaurant in April last year, she won four prestigious awards but the launch was delayed due to her ill health and closed frequently due to her illness.

She had recently been named a ‘Vegan Pioneer’ by Olive Magazine, because of her “low-waste, sustainable” approach to vegan cuisine with her fortnightly changing set menus. Head Judge Laura Rowe had said; “We really couldn’t believe Bindu’s dishes didn’t contain ghee and meaty stocks".

In November Sanctua won two accolades: being named Asian Restaurant of the Year in the Great Food Club Awards in Leicester and Best Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurant at the Asian Curry Awards in London.

In June last summer, Sanctua won Vegan Restaurant of the Year at the Asian Restaurant Awards in Manchester.

Prior to opening Sanctua, Bindu Patel, who spent spells in the kitchens of Michelin-starred and Gymkhana and Trishna restaurants and staged at Le Gavroche in London. She had also worked as a lawyer and farmer.

PR professional George Shaw first met Bindu about four years ago when she was working at Gymkhana, whilst he represented the Asian Catering Federation (ACF).

“Bindu was a talented, intelligent woman – who personified the key messages the ACF wanted to communicate with its members – to move away from cheap curry house cooking; offer authentic, regional healthy dishes and employ more women in the kitchen,” said Shaw. “She will be greatly missed.”

Bindu leaves a husband Neil, and three children aged 8, 7 and 5.