‘I had no idea’: Pret founder Julian Metcalfe, 64, reveals bombshell moment an old flame told him he had a secret 19-year-old daughter – who grew up believing her father was The Stud star Oliver Tobias

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Written By Maya Cantina

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The founder of Itsu and Pret has opened up about the moment he found out he had a secret daughter following a brief dalliance with a society beauty.

Julian Metcalfe, who co-founded sandwich chain Pret in 1984 with college friend Sinclair Beecham and later sold it for £364million and now owns Japanese fast food empire Itsu, spoke about the shock discovery that he’d fathered a teenager he didn’t know about on the latest episode of Steven Bartlett’s Diary of a CEO. 

The tycoon, who is married to New Yorker wife Brooke, told the Dragon’s Den star that he discovered the bombshell news fifteen years ago when he was 45, after a phone call out of the blue from former flame Camilla Ravenshear. 

They had enjoyed a brief tryst in the mid Eighties, with Ravenshear, who died at the age of 57 in 2017, keeping details of her daughter’s real father a secret for nearly 20 years. 

The entrepreneur said he had 'no idea' he had another child

Appearing on Steven Bartlett’s podcast Diary of a CEO, Metcalfe revealed how he was first told about his daughter Celeste

Their daughter, Celeste Tobias, who now sits on the board of his company, grew up believing she was the youngest child of Oliver Tobias, star of numerous film and television hits through the Seventies – including, alongside Joan Collins, the notorious 1978 film The Stud. 

Camilla, a niece of the former Conservative Cabinet Minister Lord St John of Fawsley, divorced Tobias in 1991. She had two other children, daughters Angelica and Dahlia. 

He described his relationship with Celeste as 'incredible', saying he now sits next to her twice a week on the board of his company

He described his relationship with Celeste as ‘incredible’, saying he now sits next to her twice a week on the board of his company

Celeste pictured in her early twenties in 2011; she told the Evening Standard in 2012 that she had no idea Oliver Tobias wasn't her real father growing up

Celeste pictured in her early twenties in 2011; she told the Evening Standard in 2012 that she had no idea Oliver Tobias wasn’t her real father growing up

Oliver Tobias and ex-wife Camilla; the couple divorced in 1993 after a nine-year marriage. Camilla died in October 2017 at the age of 57

Oliver Tobias and ex-wife Camilla; the couple divorced in 1993 after a nine-year marriage. Camilla died in October 2017 at the age of 57

Metcalfe reveals in the episode how Camilla broke the news to her daughter, then a Bristol University student, that he was her biological father two weeks before meeting the entrepreneur on London’s King’s Road to tell him. 

He said: ‘Her mother called me who I hadn’t seen for ages. I had no idea her daughter was my daughter, I’d never met her. Her mother asked to see me and we met on the King’s Road.’ 

Bartlett asked: ‘Weren’t you suspicious when she asked to see you?

He said he had no idea of the news that was coming, saying: ‘I certainly wasn’t suspicious of that. I thought maybe she needed help.’

Actor Oliver Tobias, now 76, was well known for his role in The Stud alongside Joan Collins; he was married to Camilla Ravenshear until 1991

Actor Oliver Tobias, now 76, was well known for his role in The Stud alongside Joan Collins; he was married to Camilla Ravenshear until 1991

He described his former lover as a ‘cool, intelligent, rather wonderful, eccentric brilliant woman’ who he remembered ‘very fondly’.

Metcalfe, who met his current wife society author and interior designer Brooke de Ocampo in 2007, said she told him: ‘I have a daughter and she’s your daughter’. 

He added that he then asked how long Celeste had known and she said just a fortnight: ‘I asked her “when did you tell her and how did it go down?” She replied: “I told her two weeks ago and not well.'”

The trio are said to have met for the first time at upmarket Babington House, close to where Celeste was studying. 

After the news broke, Metcalfe said: ‘I have a brilliant, beautiful and thoughtful 19-year-old daughter. I reckon I’m the luckiest man ever.’

In 2012, Celeste told the Evening Standard: ‘I was told just before I went to university in Bristol. I think my mother believed that I’d always known I wasn’t Oliver’s, but of course I didn’t. How can you know something like that? I had no idea.’ 

Julian Metcalfe with his interior designer and author wife Brooke; the pair met in 2007 and wed in 2008

Julian Metcalfe with his interior designer and author wife Brooke; the pair met in 2007 and wed in 2008 

Metcalfe said he was now close to his daughter after building a relationship with her in adulthood. He said: ‘She’s now on the board, and sits next to him two days a week and it’s incredible.’

During the episode, Bartlett also revealed how an unknown family member had entered his own life, saying an uncle he didn’t know he had had walked into his mother’s shop one day. 

He said: ‘I had at some point in my early life a man walk into my mum’s shop and he said that he was my uncle. Turns out he was. I didn’t know I had any uncles in this country. Turns out I did’. 

Last month, Metcalfe warned against potential Labour’s reforms on workers’ rights, saying they would come at a cost to the country. 

The popularity of his healthy fast food brand Itsu has soared in recent years, with 77 branches currently across the UK.  

Metcalfe created Japanese fast food brand Itsu in 1997; he sold the brand that made his name, Pret, for £364 million

Metcalfe created Japanese fast food brand Itsu in 1997; he sold the brand that made his name, Pret, for £364 million

He said of Labour’s mooted plans: ‘Nothing is free. The cash-strapped consumer ends up having to pay much more for goods and services as costs, taxes and red tape so easily cripples motivation and sensible commerce.’ 

The party plans to put forward reforms to the labour market within its first 100 days of winning power. 

The policies, fronted by Angela Rayner, a former union shop steward, would see workers given rights from day one in new jobs as well as a crackdown on zero-hours contracts. 

Labour also plans to abolish all trade union reforms enacted since 2010, when it was last in power, and scrap Tory moves to restrict workers from going on strike.

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