Rick Stein said he still struggles to "forgive" his father for committing suicide when he was a teenager.
The celebrity chef was 17 when his father Eric, who had bipolar disorder, died during a family holiday in Cornwall.
Now 72, Stein says the pain of losing loved ones "doesn't get any easier".
"It's very hard to forgive people that kill themselves," he told Radio Times.
Stein said he still responds to his father's "style, his sense of humour, his sort of pleasure in things". But he added: "You realise you've been damaged by the same person as well. He [Eric] didn't really take it out on his children, he was never cruel to us. It was just that he had his own demons."
Eric was 58 when he committed suicide while on a coastal walk.
"I had to deal with pretty major catastrophe at an early age," Stein said.
"Losing close relatives doesn't get any easier, really, but losing your parents is the big deal. I think for me I just keep feeling the need to prove yourself, and that's probably from having a slightly overpowering father." But Stein added that the tragedy has given him perspective in later life.
"The things that were so dramatic and catastrophic in the early days, you know will come right. I'm not scared by the things I was scared of in my 30s and 40s," he said.
Stein has three sons with his ex-wife Jill Newstead. He married his Australian book publicist Sarah Burns in 2011 and is stepfather to her two children.
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