Gordon Ramsay's Own Kitchen Nightmare
Is Ramsay just a high-profile victim of the downturn in the restaurant world? The troubles of Ramsay seem particularly intriguing since many chefs with television careers seem to be doing okay (Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse spring immediately to mind). These days part of being a top chef includes a book or two, restaurants in multiple locations and, if not your own television show, at least a gig or two as a guest judge on a cooking competition or a slot on a morning show. So what makes Ramsay different? Is it the global expanse of his network which includes restaurants all around the world? Is it the sheer size of his empire with over one thousand employees spread out? Or is it something else. I think in many ways the expectations for Ramsay's cuisine are higher than those of the other telegenic chefs? After all, Ramsay isn't just a chef, he is a Michelin-starred chef, a designation that carries certain weight and expectations. It must also be noted that Ramsay hasn't exactly made a lot of friends in the restaurant world. He's had feuds with his old mentor Marco Pierre White, another celebrity chef Mario Batali, and his former protege Marcus Wareing. His crotchetiness isn't just a television stunt, a marathon runner and former soccer player, he's deeply competitive and it may be that desire to be the best that led him to overextend himself in the first place. He also may have lacked a firm restraining hand in the form of a business partner. Ramsay owns 69 percent of his company while his father-in-law is the chief executive of Gordon Ramsay Holdings and owns the other 31 percent.
Over at our sister blog, Daily Finance, Alex Salkever questions Ramsay's future and if he will file for bankruptcy? I think Ramsay's actually on the path to recovery. He's focusing on what he knows, opening a new version of Petrus restaurant in the Belgravia area of London that will serve the modern French fare that got him into the spotlight in the first place. And when he expands into other areas he's now doing so through agreements where he sells off his name, menu advice and expertise. By switching some of his restaurants to being licensed establishments rather than enterprises wholly owned by his company he may have lost some control but he's gained more cash and cut his total risk. In the Wall Street Journal interview Ramsay says that he's learned a lot about business in the past year. If he can surrender his ego a bit and learn his lessons then he may be in good shape for the future. If not? Well, Hell's Kitchen just got renewed for another season in the U.S. so he has that to fall back on.