THE former Bolton boss of the Pathak food empire has died at the 68.

Kirit Pathak died on Saturday after reports he had been involved in a car crash nearly a week before in Dubai, where he had emigrated to with his wife Meena.

The father-of-three was a well-known Bolton businessman taking over the global brand founded by his parents, the late Laximishanker and Shanta Gaury Pathak, who helped make Indian cuisine one of the nation's popular dishes.

Mr Pathak lived on Victoria Road, Heaton, where he raised his children, Neeraj, Anjali and Nayan.

With his wife Meena and daughter Anjali continued to run the Leigh-based business.

The Bolton News:

(Meena Pathak)

In 2007 the Pathak family sold its Indian food business to Associated British Foods, which took on the firm's business and brand - except for its operations in India.

Today tributes have been paid to Mr Pathak by Associated British Foods.

Following the sale of the business Mr Pathak assumed the role of chairman of the combined business of Patak's and Blue Dragon, and his wife, Mrs Pathak, became a director.

George Weston, chief excutive of Associated British Foods said: “From the Board of ABF and on behalf of the Weston family, our deepest sympathies go out to Kirit’s wife, Meena, and all his family and friends at this very sad time.

"Kirit was a great man who was blessed with entrepreneurial flair, astute business acumen and a passion for authentic Indian cuisine. From humble beginnings he and Meena created an incredible business all built on the concept of making Indian-style meals easy and accessible for time-poor people, but what they actually did was introduce a fantastic genre of cooking into millions of homes, transforming it into a home-dining staple.

"Kirit and his family revolutionised the way we eat at home and he leaves behind a legacy that not only employs hundreds of people but is enjoyed by millions of homes worldwide every day.”

Andy Mayhew, Managing Director of AB World Foods added:“On behalf of everyone at AB World Foods, I would like to convey my deepest and most heartfelt sympathy to the Pathak family on the extremely sad news of Kirit Pathak’s passing "Kirit emigrated to London from Kenya as a child in the 1950s and subsequently took over the family business. With his energy, enthusiasm and natural business acumen he turned Patak’s into one of the UK’s most successful food brands, cutting through the established culinary culture of the time to bring the flavours of India to the United Kingdom and beyond.

"Under Kirit’s visionary leadership, a-state-of-the-art factory was built in Leigh, Lancashire, from where we are still based today, employing over 350 people. He remained involved with the business as Chairman and, later, Honorary Life President of AB World Foods. On a personal note, Kirit has been a friend and mentor to me for over 13 years and I shall miss enormously both his good company and wise counsel. I know the shock of his loss will be keenly felt across AB World Foods and we extend our thoughts and prayers to his family at this difficult time.”

Close friend of the family Sital Raja-Arjan of House of Raja,said: "We are very saddened by the death, we were told on Saturday.

"The family are very well known in Bolton, and were very active in the Hindu community - and the rest of the community.

"Some of the family still live here, it is where the children grew up.

"Kirit was a people's person, he was so proud of how his parents started the business and the new television advertisment shows a picture of him delivering pickle - that is how humble the family are.

"He like to look after people and enjoyed entertaining people. He wanted to follow his parents and to grow the brand,which he did.

"The family still have many friends here in Dubai and in India and they will be supported."

Pathak's is based in Leigh and is thought to supply about 75 per cent of the UK's Indian restaurants.

It was set up by the Pathak family in 1957 and sells cooking sauces, curry pastes, chutneys and pickles in more than 40 countries.

Pathak's also makes own-brand products for supermarket chains including Tesco.