He rose to fame in the 1980s with a ground-breaking format taking his stove out of the TV studio and on to fishing trawlers, beaches in Thailand and markets in France, often wearing his trademark bowtie and always with a glass in hand.
He joined the army from school, taking his first steps in the kitchen by trying out his dishes on officers, but his passion for food blossomed when he worked as a barman and dishwasher in London and France after leaving the forces.
He set up his first restaurant in Bristol, and got his big break when a food-loving TV producer became a regular customer. That led to an offer of a seven-part BBC series called "Floyd On Fish". At their peak, the "Floyd On..." series which followed were broadcast in 40 countries.
Floyd also wrote more than 20 books, many of which went straight into the best-seller lists, and made no secret of growing problems with alcohol and his inability to manage money. He was married four times.
His latest autobiography "Stirred But Not Shaken", in which he described his battles with the bottle, is due to be published next month. In a TV interview broadcast coincidentally on the day he died, a frail-looking Floyd launched a tirade against current TV chefs, accusing them of lacking passion for food.
The award-winning Gordon Ramsay "is on a celebrity zig-zag", he said. Michelin-starred chief Marco Pierre White said Floyd's death had robbed the country of an inspirational figure.
"He had this great ability at the stove, great confidence. He was a natural cook," he told BBC radio. "But his very special talent was he could articulate himself and deliver inspiration with words. He spoke in a way that everybody could understand."
He added: "A little piece of Britain died yesterday which will never be replaced."